Sunday, June 29, 2008


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


COPE, the longstanding party of the municipal left which prides itself on its progressive platform and policies at its last executive meeting, put forward a motion to expel a long-time member.

David MacKay, who has been a longtime champion of social justice, human rights and labour issues at the May 2008 Annual General Meeting of COPE, blasted the party for not standing up for the membership or being principled enough regarding Vision, the new municipal party which since forming in 2005 appears hell bent on destroying COPE.

The problem was Mr. MacKay from what I've been informed, from his seat, on a number of occasions, heckled executive members who were speaking in favour of merger plans with the cut-throat Vision party.

It seems many of the new COPE executive were non-plussed over this heckling. They also appear unable to grasp that political heckling is a time-honoured tradition from Scotland, which co-incidentally is the home nation of which Mr. MacKay's forefathers hail from.

Heckling has long been a part of democracy and attempts to eradicate it, flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which places heckling as acts of defiance and democracy.

Apparently a number of COPE executives including Tim Louis and Ellen Woodsworth didn't approve of this draconian move to censor a member and voted against this motion at the COPE board meeting. The motion though apparently has passed.

COPE governs itself as a society and therefore must follow proper protocol. According to the BC Societies Act, if a member is to be re-moved from membership, certain criteria must be followed. A specific meeting must be called for that purpose and the reasons for expulsion must be clearly stated. The member has the right to be heard at the meeting and the motion for expulsion is passed only if receiving a 2/3 majority vote.

It seems that COPE may be going a bit overboard on this issue. No threats were made or was there any abuse hurled at anyone.

It seems Mr. MacKay has legitimate concerns over forming an alliance with Vision and for repeatedly voicing these concerns.

COPE professes to be a grassroots-driven and democratic party, therefore, it has no business trying to silence critics with-in its party.

If COPE plans on moving ahead with this undemocratic move, it will only draw negative attention to itself and further questions will be raised regarding how democratic the party really is.

Jamie Lee Hamilton