Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


Vancouver's non-partisans Non Partisan Association (NPA) which for the last 65 years dominated Vancouver municipal politics appears set on a collision course and unable to alter the course of history after being unceremoniously dumped from the political landscape in the 2002 election. As you recall, citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of the more progressive Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).

While the NPA went down to humiliating defeat, the city appeared deliriously happy with the selection of neophyte Larry Campbell as Mayor. Vancouverites believed they elected a softer more gentler civic government. One that they thought was more in tune with their ideas and value based systems.

That was then and boy have the citizens ever been surprised since. Assuming power, COPE has had more downs than ups. Many internal problems bubbled over and spilled out. Most often these issues were a result of their Mayor acting in the interests of developers, casino operators and bar owners instead of ordinary citizens who comprise COPE.

The NPA helplessly looked on as the Mayor and his cronies, seemed to sew up the treasure chests of the business class.

Undeterred, the NPA was not sitting back and watching, instead they plotted their return. They decided in order to be successful, first they needed to broaden their appeal with the hope of attracting a broader base of support. They held a series of public consultations. While the turn-outs were just average, the NPA appeared to be consulting and listening.

However, something went awry. First, just before their AGM, the NPA board of directors decided that membership fees within their party should increase to $25.00. The rationale behind this decision was the unfounded fear of outsiders taking over their party. By raising memberships fees, this way they could keep out outsiders. Moreover, the assumption and quite an erroneous one at that--is they would exercise better control over the internal workings of their party. Unfortunately for the NPA, this decision is costing them. It is viewed by many voters as elitist and the restrictive membership fee prohibits accessibility. A party that doesn't embrace inclusivity will not have appeal, hence problems at the polls. Students, Seniors or those earning minimum wages will be unable to fully participate in party discussions and decisions.

Where the NPA's poorly thought out decisions will manifest is their nominating process and to their unforseen embarrassment, most likely this will culminate at their nomination meeting in June.

The NPA board then went on to make another serious mistake. They knew the provincial election was set for May 2005 and to recruit candidates during the provincial election period has proven fruitless. In fact, nominating candidates 6 months before the November municipal election has proven to be disastrous. Throughout the life of the NPA, many of those desiring to be elected saw the NPA as their hope of obtaining office. To secure an NPA nomination was like like a walk on easy street. NPA had a certain cachet and a brand name to boot always helps.

Or so everyone thought.

But the NPA has had difficulty attracting candidates and you are hearing it here for the first time in my Downtown Eastside blog. In fact, so far only eight candidates have filed the requisite nomination applications by the required May 18 deadline for council. This leaves the NPA short by two seats of filling 10 nominee spots for council.

For parks board and school board it is even worse. Again by the application deadline only three nominees filed for school board leaving a gapinng hole of six uncontested spots. This is unheard of in the NPA's history. Only two individuals have filed for park board spots, leaving a shortfall of five commissioner seats open.

However, I have been informed that a number of applications have yet to be approved by the required deadline and this raises concern. The NPA appears to to be breaking its own nomination procedures and this is somewhat unusual. Look for them to say, they couldn't finalize the interviews in time. But this my dear readers is bogus. After their deadline passed the NPA knew it had a major problem on it's hands and they have enticed supporters to file papers which can be backdated. Does this remind people of a memo which was once coughed up out of thin air?

In any event, those who have been affirmed as NPA candidates for council are these stellar politicians. Sam Sullivan, Peter Ladner, Suzanne Anton, Jesse Johl, Valerie Jenkinson, Kim Capri, BC Lee and Patrick Maliha all filed applications.

Filing for park board are Heather Holdom and Ian Robertson.

Nominations for school board are Don Lee, Michelle Mollineaux and Elyn Dobbs.

As Suzanne Anton, the well respected Parks Commissioner stated at her official campaign launch, 'Its Time to put some Suzannity into City Hall'. Perhaps the NPA might be wise to first put it into practise within it's own party.

Jamie Lee Hamilton


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