Sunday, April 05, 2009


Oldtown News
Vancouver, BC


Today I attended the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) annual general meeting after being summoned there by my political ally Tim Louis.

The meeting hall was full with around 300 people in attendance. Pretty good considering it was a lovely sunny day.

There was as is the usual case within COPE, a split in the membership as newer instant-sign-up members were attempting to overthrow former Councillor Tim (Che) Louis who was seeking re-election to his Correspondence Secretary position. This made for a interesting meeting.

There was this instant-member-group at the meeting who don't much care for Tim and they often took jabs at him during the meeting. This group has styled themselves the so-called COPE 12 and they were seeking control of all twelve positions on the COPE executive.

The COPE 12 slate is headed by former teacher and NDP MLA David Chudnovsky. Mr Chudnovsky and his cheerleaders (the other 11 members of COPE 12) continually talked about co-operation and co-operative politics. They talked up a storm about their winning formula regarding what they see as their successful NDP-COPE-Vision campaign.

When it came time to voting for the position Mr Louis was seeking re-election for, all co-operation flew out the window as COPE 12 nominated a relative newcomer to COPE who has been involved for two years. What this COPE 12 group did was hardly co-operative.

Alvin Singh, a young Indo Canadian male and a relative new-comer to COPE, during his nomination speech for External Chair delivered a blistery highly charged and emotional speech directed at COPE members including COPE stalwart Tim Louis who opposed an alliance with the New Vision Party. Mr Singh speech was clearly a divisive attack and many members I spoke with are so fed up with this NEW-NDP-COPE that they are now finished.

I've had empathy and concern for the South Asian community in Vancouver municipal politics because they have in my opinion been treated poorly, however, the level of disrespect levelled by Mr Singh at longtime members of COPE who he disagrees with--they didn't support Vision--which he thinks was wrong and if Mr Singh is lthe best leader that this community can come up with--by his example today--this community will continue to struggle politically.

I was not surprised by the COPE 12 treatment of Mr Louis but I was really sickened how this NDP-COPE 12 gang could so callously and shabbily treat a man who has given and sacrificed so much to COPE.

Talk about betrayal.

COPE had no money to start its election campaign and Mr Louis loaned the organization $25,000.00 and he still hasn't been paid back a cent. Moreover, Mr Louis subsidized COPE, giving them free rent in historic offices that he owns at Main and Broadway. According to the treasurer of COPE Mr. Terry Martin, the monetary value to COPE from Mr Louis' generosity of the offices is $90,000.00.

During this free-rent-period, COPE hired full-time staff who according to Tim's wife and longtime COPE member Dr Penny Parry, has treated Mr Louis very poorly.

Mr Louis came close to winning his executive position losing by 129 votes to 133 votes for the winner.

This close margin of the vote demonstrates that Mr Louis has significant support within COPE and especially from the longtime members who have given so much to COPE, both financially and emotionally over the years.

This new COPE 12 group many who are in the under 30 years of age bracket have the ability to sign up instant members through their university and other related networks. They even beat Mr Louis by the narrowest of margins but this is only by signing up instant members who I doubt will stick around long. How this group will function in an election will be interesting to observe.

In fact most of the instant-member crowd departed right after voting in their COPE 12 slate and by the time the annual financial statements were presented they were long gone.

The reading of the COPE financial statement though is important as it shows COPE with a six figure debt with about $10,000 cash in the bank.

COPE has now rented offices at the historic Dominion building at Cambie and Hastings and it has three full-time staff which includes an Executive Director position.

Treasurer Terry Martin presented that COPE brings in about eight hundred dollars per month in pre-authorized chequing donations from members but how this is going to cover the fixed costs of 3 staff, an office and paying down this six figure debt will be interesting to watch.

I doubt the mostly newcomers who comprise COPE 12 who interestingly throughout the afternoon continually parroted their freshness and newness to COPE, have extensive fundraising networks. Who is going to be paying the COPE bills is a question which I hope our local news outlets will follow. The structural debt they will be carrying needs to be watched closely.

It's funny as I left the COPE meeting I couldn't help thinking how the Teacher David Chudnovsky and his 11 merry cheerleaders, complete with their backslapping, whoops of excitement & laughter and their continuous rushing about to make sure their instant-sign-up supporters were voting the correct way--resembled something one might see happening in a high school.

Two years ago the new NDP-COPE brought us Nanny (Ellen Woodsworth) and her gang of juveniles and this year because Nanny was elected to Council, the newer NDP-COPE 12 brings us Teacher Chudnovsky and his merry band of cheerleaders. How exciting.

Jamie Lee Hamilton