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Vancouver’s two heavyweight civic parties gather the faithful

April 27th, 2010 · 24 Comments

On the off chance that you’ve decided that you’d rather be inside a small room with a bunch of diehard political junkies talking about party governance  than channel-surfing, tonight (Wednesday, April 28) is your lucky night.

Both of the two main civic parties in Vancouver are holding their annual general meetings. The Non-Partisan Association, which has seen itself reduced to near oblivion in two elections since Y2K, is going through yet another struggle to figure out if it should re-brand itself and change the modus operandi it’s had since the 1930s, when it was formed to ensure the more organized socialists didn’t take over.

At that time, and for 60-some years since then, it’s seen its role as getting together a group of good candidates and supporting them to run for office under a common name. No party policies, no platform per se, which made it relatively easy for federal Liberals and Conservatives to work together in the non-party party. But the NPA brand, formerly seen as gold, has taken a beating and it’s also been difficult for its politicians to articulate exactly what they stand for, especially as city politicians have gravitated more and more to the centre. The party’s hard times were evident in the fact that no one could get it together to organize a fundraiser last fall, something that’s been a traditional time to rally the forces even in dark times.

The meeting tomorrow is to talk about changing the name but to something with the same NPA initials — a rather confusing proposition. I’m sure I don’t need to invite my inventive readers to come up with suggestions. But there will be a more meaty discussion about going out and talking to the membership about developing new policies that would help define the party better. I personally can’t see that working. People who are members are the choir. Someone needs to set out a new vision that can attract potential voters besides the party faithful.

At any rate, we wish them luck because I don’t think anyone in Vancouver is excited about the prospect of decades of one-party rule by Vision Vancouver.

And, speaking of VV, they’ll also be having their AGM, which party types have faithfully sworn to me is going to be very boring and just procedural. How tame. Why don’t they round up some of those disgruntled Vision voters who are forever signing their names to angry emails these days and have a discussion about how VV went off the rails? No hope, I guess.

I try not to join the howling media masses who are always wringing their hands about the faults of the recently elected administration, whoever and wherever they are. It’s so adolescent, this falling in and out of love at every election. But I do get a sense of genuine deflation and confusion from many, for whom the excitement and euphoria they felt two years ago, as this party was picking up steam with the mayoral-nominee race, has evaporated.

It’s not just the usual naive disenchantment — oh, they promised to change the world and now they’re acting so cautious, just like everyone else! Instead, the party feels like it’s disconnected and withdrawn from the public, hunkered down and not venturing out to say anything without direction from the strategists.

That’s why it would be interesting if someone kicked off a real discussion at the meeting and brought that underground dissatisfaction into the open. Then at least it could be addressed, painful as it was.

For those wanting to join the festivities:

The NPA is meeting at the Museum of Vancouver starting at 6 p.m.

Vision Vancouver is meeting at the BCIT downtown campus on Seymour starting at 6 p.m.

You can cycle on the new bike lane on Burrard Bridge to get from one to the other.

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