Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Underbelly News
Downtown Eastside


The Non Partisan Association (NPA) Nomination meeting is starting to catch up with the ruling Coalition of Progressive Electors/Friends of Larry Campbell (COPE and COPE LITE)saga for its plots, twists, turns and curves.

Originally, the NPA board determined their ideal strategy was to hold an early nomination meeting in June. Their intent I'm sure was based on the premise of putting before the electorate, many unknown candidates. This allowed an opportunity for these candidates to get their names out there over the summer.

Unfortunately, a number of promising candidates after Mayor Larry Campbell issued a release showing the NPA at an unheard of 18% popular support, suddenly got cold feet. After all who wants to run only to lose. This created a minor setback for the NPA board who needed to adjust their nomination procedures in order to have full slates running for council,school and parks in the November municipal election.

The board decided instead of having one nomination meeting, it could have two. One would be held in June and the other in September.

Then the drama in the NPA began. First off, NPA elected officials sent out public notices that potential members only had until May 19 to sign up as a member in order to vote at the NPA nomination meeting on June 16. According to the NPA constitution, members must be a member in good standing 28 days prior to a nomination meeting.

The Board realizing it couldn't attract as many candidates as they would have hoped for a June nomination, decided to improve things by stretching their deadline for nomination applications. Individuals could file as late as June 4. Additionally a member would only need to be a member in good standing 14 days prior to the nomination meeting. This gave the board a bit of wiggle room and may have helped (or hindered) a bit. Arising from this decision though was a series of other problems.

One was that the Board neglected to inform caucus/candidates/potential candidates of this change. A number of NPA elected officials had already sent out notices a few days before the provincial election to supporters informing them that NPA deadline was fast approaching (to become a member). This deadline was May 19. Obviously, they didn't know of the board change.

Things would have been fine had the NPA just articulated the need to have two nomination meeting (really unusual), due to difficulties attracting candidates by the June nomination meeting. This would have been the most honest and forthright way to inform the public. Or, they could have easily put off their nomination meeting until September (when it's usually held) allowing them further discussions with possible candidates. They could have used the summer to entice candidates.

But for some reason, backroom decision makers in the NPA decided on other methods of holding their nominations. Now though what the NPA is left with is a certain level of distrust among candidates, caucus, members and the board. Already two candidates have withdrawn in the last few days over the changing rules of the nomination meeting in June. Subsequently, a gag order has been placed on all candidates vying for nominations.

I have been told by an informed source that, if a candidate loses their NPA nomination in June they can seek another nomination in September. Candidates will have an opportunity at two kicks at the can so to speak. Again, this is really unusual having two sets of nomination meetings but then again, a party can do almost anyhing it likes. Even if it means breakingf its own constitution. Of course, unless the membership complains, it really demonstrates that candidates in municipal parties are beholden to unelected officials and special interests. This undermines democracy.

This is where the public really gets shortchanged and ordinary citizens
will lose every time.

So in November folks please keep in mind that both Vancouver municipal parties are prone to changing rules to fit their own personal agendas. The politicians in turn pay lip service to us, the citizenry. Its time to change this and vote for worthy candidates who are independent minded and put first, the best interests of their community or neighborhood.

As a side note, Vancouver is the only city in Canada with municipal parties. Its time to change this folks!

Jamie Lee Hamilton