Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

COPE loses Green vision

There is lots of chatter going on about the appointment of Larry Campbell to the Senate. A lot of that chatter comes from three positions.

Those who did not like Larry, tending to be Conservatives living outside Vancouver, consider accepting a senate post as proof positive Larry Campbell is the scondrel they knew him to be. Ironic too is the response from some that cannot COPE with such an appointment. COPE, Vancouver's left wing civic party (not NDP) can feel all smug in coming to the same assessment that the conservatives have.

The other response has been, "don't like the senate, but if we have to have it, Larry is a good choice."

That is pretty much where I am on the matter. I have admired Larry Campbell, for one thing he does not beat around the bush, he has been straight forward and a solid voice for progressive issues.

The split with COPE took longer than I thought it would. I have always felt uncomfortable with COPE to the point that I joined now and again to support people like Larry. The party at times have had some people that were not interested in getting along with others that had a different view.

COPE succeeded in the 2002 municipal election because it had taken on Larry Campbell. People of all political stripes voted for Campbell which is amazing when you think about it. His base of support was strong enough I suspect he could have taken the NPA's nomination for Mayor or run as an independent and won.

It was a hopeful sign that COPE had succeeded here and we could move on to holding office for a few terms. Nothing destroys that kind of planning quicker than the far left however. People in a hurry to right every wrong out there, not next year, or next month, but this afternoon.

The same thing happened to the provincial NDP when they formed a majority government. The government moved to make changes and in nine plus years succeeded in doing some great stuff. Not fast enough for many of our left friends however. If we announced a new park, the response was, you haven't made the other area we want into a park. If we added dental care for children on assistance, we got heck for not including pony rides.

It was frustrating to have so many people we shared common values with continually slam us. The same happens in COPE. With each success we have to turn the world upside down or we're not doing our job.

Governing in a democracy requires that you consult. It does not make you dictator for three or four years. You can do that (The system lets you) and impose your views on others but then what have you done other than exactly what the other guys did.

The act of governing is not one where you should impose your policy on the whole population. If the general concensus is not accepted by the population you can not expect they will be happy come the next election. Significant change in policy must be done over time and with consultation.

In Vancouver Campbell did have a mandate to govern that Vancouver has not seen in a long time. He was elected to address the drug problem, to implement the four pillars strategy. And he has been successful. This is due in large part because the people of Vancouver wanted it to succeed. Progress has been made on other fronts as well. New green initiatives, the Woodwards building, ethical purchasing policy and more.

Some in COPE will not forgive Campbell and the COPE Lites for their approval of gambling at the race tracks. Their opposition is well founded here. We all know what the problems are with gambling, yet we all know that gambling would eventually show up at Hastings Park. If not now then in a few years when the NPA took over council again.

We have seen NDP dominated councils in the lower mainland accept gambling and the revenues that flow from it. What was Vancouver to do? Allow these places to reap the dollars while Vancouver dealt with the problems? Better to take the dollars, save the jobs at Hastings Park and promote and support programs for those with gambling addictions. Here I come out of the closet, supporting gaming, I don't mind it, though I know we must have programs and systems to protect those with addictions.

Campbell saw this and acted. He didn't suffer fools either and that I liked. Public meetings on a variety of issues degenerated into nothing more than a shouting match and a media opportunity for those with an axe to grind. Campbell's approach was refreshing and again, the reason so many in Vancouver appreciated his leadership.

Within COPE many continue to support Campbell and his approach, many who support Jim Green. It appears some egos in the current leadership, the likes of Bass and Louis are too fragile to accept compromise or gradual change. It appears that unwillingness or the George W. Bush attitude, "your with us or your against us" prevails. It doesn't look good on Bush and it doesn't look good on COPE.

I did not like the RAV line decision. Still it was more a decision forced on the council and regional district by Ottawa and Victoria. I think that many businesses are going to be hurt severely by the decision, so will many residents be affected. That said its done, now do we throw out the chance to continue governing Vancouver because we don't like the decisions on Gambling and the Rav line?

Vision Vancouver was born out a need to elect people from the left and centre, people that did not feel they would have the support of COPE. It is shame it has come to this. The voices of Jenny Kwan, Harry Rankin and Libby Davies are missed in COPE. Now Campbell and Jim Green are missed as well.

The final indignity to the left will be the decision COPE is still to make. Will they run a full slate for council, including the Mayor's chair? I cannot believe they may run someone against Jim Green for Mayor. Do they seriously want to assist the NPA to elect Sam Sullivan, nice guy, but no vision or Peter Ladner, Mr. Right Wing who gave Gordon Campbell tons of free advertising in the guise of "news stories".

Jim Green has been in the trenches, he has been there for the downtown eastside, he has done much to make life better for all of Vancouver and now is his time. COPE needs to endorse Green and run its five candidates for council.

Finally, I want the senate abolished but I am pragmatic on this. To change it or eliminate it will take agreement from all the provinces. Now you tell me, how we can do that anytime soon. If we have the Senate, I have to admit, one guy that will shake it up, will be vocal, will support progressive issues there, will be Larry Campbell. Senator Nolan showed me the place can do some good.

The Gazetteer has a great take on the Vancouver race to City hall here.

See: No Vision for COPE, COPE Classics face a grim future with Green, “VANCOUVER CAN BE A MODEL FOR THE WORLD”, New Downtown Stadium On Vancouver Waterfront On Its Way, Mayor Jim Green?, Envisioning Vancouver , Babble on COPE etc

For more on Jim Green, Larry Campbell, Vision Vancouver, COPE, NPA and Vancouver use the Technorati search box here and at Queer Thoughts.

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