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COPE vows to take on Vision Vancouver with majority-women slates

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The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) detailed what it hopes will be an "open, fair and transparent process" to select candidates to take on incumbent Vision Vancouver in the upcoming Vancouver municipal election—and will run a majority-women slate with spots reserved for Aboriginal nominees on city council, schools and park boards.

At a press conference Monday on the steps of City Hall, COPE Executive Director Sean Antrim, Equity & Diversity Caucus member Imtiaz Popat and Membership Secretary Gretchen Dulmage outlined their party's nomination process. "COPE is the only civic party whose candidates will be democratically selected," Antrim said. COPE has released a guide for prospective nominees and plans to hold "mentorship" workshops and host nominee debates. "All voices will be heard," said Antrim.

The party's membership voted last year to cancel their strategic alliance with governing party Vision Vancouver and run a mayoral candidate as well as a majority slate in council, parks and school board. In March, members voted to ensure that a majority of their candidates identify as women. They have also reserved at least one spot on for an Aboriginal candidate.

"We will be contesting Vision Vancouver in this election," Antrim said. "COPE will build a Vancouver everyone can afford and sweep real estate developers out of the back rooms."

Two thirds of Vision's campaign funds come from corporations -- and just recently Mayor Gregor Robertson sparked criticism for hosting a $25,000 a plate fundraiser plumped by "Condo King" Bob Rennie who invited 100 of the city's biggest developers to attend. Under Robertson's leadership, the city has seen rents soar (along with the police budget) and its street homelessness population doubled this year.

"COPE is the only major party in Vancouver where all important decisions are made by its membership," said Dulmage. Candidates will be bound by policies developed by members who live, work or study in Vancouver--which include building social housing, strong rent control laws, affordable child care and making Vancouver a Sanctuary City.

Former provincial Greens candidate Popat sees a diversity deficit in the composition of City Hall and wants to see a "majority of minorities" at Cambie and 12th. "We're taking concrete steps to combat racism, sexism and heterosexism in Vancouver municipal politics," Popat said. "In particular, indigenous people and women will be encouraged to run."

So far, no candidates have come forward, although COPE External Co-Chair and former City Councillor Tim Louis is expected to seek a nomination for council. Developer-friendly Vision has permitted its incumbents to bypass any selection process and has not detailed the nomination process for any vacancies on their slate. The NPA Executive will also pick their candidates directly, behind closed-door meetings.

"I think that people are really fed up with Vision Vancouver," said Popat after the press conference. "I'm really proud of the policies we've come up with and that our candidates will really reflect this city."

The nomination deadline to run as a COPE candidate is August 24, two weeks before the September 7 membership conference. Vancouver's municipal election is scheduled to take place November 15.

Image: Michael Stewart


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