Monday, November 12, 2007


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


There have been a number of concerns since the new executive of COPE took control six months ago.

The membership was promised with the selection of seven new youth executive members to compliment veteran COPEster and new Chairperson, Ellen Woodsworth, that COPE would see an re-invigorating of the party.

To date, the organizing has been of an amateur quality and it seems COPE led by Ellen Woodsworth hasn't demonstrated respect to communities who have historically fought alongside COPE and HARRY RANKIN in making Vancouver a better place to live.

First there was the Women's forum organized by Ellen Woodsworth which besides having a poor turn-out, didn't have one representative from the multi-cultural or first nations communities. In fact, the panel was entirely compromised of Caucasian women and in the smallish audience, I didn't see one person of colour. This is a sad reflection if you observe the mosaic of Vancouver, you will witness a truly multi-cultural city.

But the most insulting of insults is about to happen on December 1. Originally, the COPE Ideas conference was to happen in the first week in November. November 2 and November 9 came and went and no COPE Ideas Forum. I guess the new executive couldn't get its act together to pull it off.

Now the COPE annual policy forum, is set for December 1 , World Aids Day. This is a slap-in-the-face to a day commemorating the losses, sacrifices, contributions and history of the impact HIV and AIDS has had in our City.

Many AIDS awareness events are planned for this day, including Day without Art.

Many progressive activists and advocates in the field of HIV and AIDS are now being asked to choose between attending AIDS awareness and education events or the COPE policy conference.

This isn't smart political thinking on the COPE leadership front, actually many might say, this action demonstrates a lack of real leadership.

COPE historically has never held their Ideas policy forum on this day and why they planned it for this day is absolutely disrespectful. Moreover, there are a number of Youth WORLD AIDS DAY events happening in the City and with so many youth on the new COPE board, you might think they would have been more sensitive to a day specially earmarked for those impacted by AIDS.

Equally insulting is that COPE has structured all its topics for this day on environmental, tenant and transit issues. There is no mention of AIDS or even an acknowledgement on its website or posters about HIV and AIDS.

Surprisingly, Spencer Herbert, COPE park Commissioner, is a member of the gay community as is Ellen Woodsworth. As a result, you might think these two individuals would have ensured that COPE was respectful of certain significant cultural days.

COPE needs to now issue an apology. I hope they are not so blind to see that they blew it big time on this matter!

Jamie Lee Hamilton