Monday, May 28, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


The much heralded COPE annual general meeting took place yesterday and this six hour marathon meeting had its many moments.

The AGM, pitted old school COPE against a newer version and at the end of the day, a slate calling itself "gang of seven" (newer version), who supports a coalition with Vision, emerged victorious over a slate, "Keep it COPE" lead by former COPE Councillor, Tim Louis.

The vote tally though was significantly close with the new "gang of seven", winning most spots on the COPE executive.

At the start of the meeting, when the first round of voting for External Chair was announced, there was an attempt to keep secret, the vote and ballots cast. The membership though revolted and demanded transparency. They successfully lobbied for the number of ballots cast and results between candidates to be made public.

After the first round of voting was announced where 386 ballots were cast with only 368 ballots being declared valid, former Councillor and "gang of seven" leader, Ellen Woodsworth emerged victorious over "Keep it COPE", Penny Parry with a vote count of 197 to 169.

What caused the discrepancy between ballots cast and valid ballots isn't clear but for the remainder of voting rounds, the announcements included only the vote results for each candidate. In the next round of voting for COPE Internal Chair, the incumbent, longtime COPE member and "gang of seven" slate member, Donalda Greenwell-Baker defeated "Keep it COPE", Terry Martin by a margin of 191 to 172 votes.

Next up "Keep it COPE", Tim Louis was nominated for secretary, a position he held on the current executive. Former COPE School trustee, Adrienne Montani then nominated one of the many younger and new COPE members, Nathan Lusignan, a 22 year old Community Coordinator with the Vancouver School board. After Mr. Louis gave his rousing nomination speech, which the membership provided the only thunderous applause of the day. Mr. Lusignan then withdrew for some reason and later successfully captured one of the member-at-large positions. At this time, Ms Montanni strode directly over to Tim Louis who was very close to this writer and profusely apologized to Mr. Louis

For the Treasurer position, another newcomer to COPE, running on the self-styled "gang of seven" slate, Lucas Schuller, ran against the incumbent COPE treasurer, Paul Houle.

Mr. Houle has presided over and ensured that the COPE election debt was paid off. For this, you might think the membership would reward its treasurer, however, instead gave the nod to political newcomer, Mr. Schuller. In his nomination speech, Mr. Schuller was thoughtless in an partisan attack against the incumbent treasurer and current executive, when he announced that COPE is still manually processing credit card payments. This comment by Mr. Schuller was quite juvenile and unnecessary. Interestingly when this blogger questioned Lucas over his support for the Vision party (champions of the Olympics) and his stated non-support of the Olympics and how he reconciles this glaring difference, he replied he doesn't like partisan politics. One wonders then why he is involved politically since COPE is very much a partisan party?

Mr. Schuller though wasn't the only one making quirky comments at the AGM.

Spencer Herbert, an elected COPE park Commissioner, who supports an alliance with Vision and who I actually like when questioned about Vision receiving so much of its financial support from developers, gambling interests and the organized bar lobby, and historically COPE's non-support of these entities, said, "I'm not willing to personalize the donations, Vision receives". Mr. Herbert, I suspect with this type of thinking may lose a chunk of COPE's traditional neighborhood base of support in the East End, especially with his support of running in coalition with a party (Vision) which places higher value on special interests over your average voting resident.

On another front, it appears COPE may have just handed the NPA, an election wedge issue. At the AGM as of 6pm, COPE was heatedly debating the opening up of COPE membership to non electoral residents of Vancouver. The motion, " to open up COPE membership to those who work or go to school in Vancouver" is going to be, if passed, really problematic for COPE. What this motion affirms is that those who don't have the right to vote in Vancouver civic elections will have equal say to COPE members who through residency requirements do have the right to vote in Vancouver municipal elections. This motion creates an unfair balance and I'm certain, if this motion passes, COPE may well lose support from its core members. The NPA will have a field day with this one.

Looking at the bigger picture, the COPE Annual General Meeting, may have created many problems for itself, especially, but not only limited to the selection of a gang of political juveniles and Nanny.

Stay tuned folks for what will surely be some fallout.

Jamie Lee Hamilton