Will the BC NDP go the way of COPE?

Trashed? Can the BC NDP be getting ‘the COPE treatment’ from Vision?

What has been happening in BC politics in recent days has been bewildering for many of us who follow it. This morning the BC Liberals had their first candidate declare, Dr. Moira Stilwell, the new MLA for Vancouver-Langara, who announced her intentions this morning on the Bill Good Show. Although virtually unknown in her party let alone the province, Stilwell is an exceedingly bright woman and probably one of the sharpest knives in the BC Liberal drawer. She has stepped down from cabinet, and thrown everyone for a loop with her announcement.

What has been happening with the BC NDP in recent weeks makes the fracas faced by the BC Liberal party look like a friendly game of croquet. It is not just wishful thinking when I say that the BC NDP is clearly imploding. A multi-member revolt took place over the weekend, with one-third of their caucus determining that they will not support their leader.

The BC Liberals by comparison, with an even larger caucus, managed to keep their dispute with their leader to only one person – Kootenay-East MLA Bill Bennett. There may be more within the BC Liberal caucus who agitated for a leadership change, but to their credit they managed to keep out of the spotlight and inside the caucus boardroom.

It’s worth looking more closely at who’s behind the fractiousness facing the BC NDP and where their loyalties exist.

You have to go no further than my 24 Hours colleague Bill Tieleman to see someone who appears to be one of the main operators on this move to unseat NDP leader Carole James. Bill is a top organizer of the Fight HST campaign, and not only does he have his column in a 250,000 circulation paper, he is provided 30 minutes free and clear on CKNW’s The World Today Weekend with host Sean Leslie. Bill wears the hat of a pundit and a political organizer, and he is having a big influence on BC politics.

From what I’ve seen Bill is also a realist when it comes to politics. And like many in the New Democratic Party he’s surmised that the BC NDP cannot take power with Carole James at the helm. The plummeting popularity of Gordon Campbell bought James some time, but with the BC Liberals looking to revitalize around a new leader, many NDP must see the writing on the wall.

Is the unhappiness among many BC NDP supporters going to lead to a split on the left like we’ve seen in Vancouver? Will a Vision BC party rise up from the ashes of the BC NDP? Will the old NDP wind up marginalized and begging for bread crumbs like COPE is today? Let’s look at how this might happen.

COPE used to be a powerhouse political brand in Vancouver politics. Born in the late sixties as a response to a rising New Left ideology, the party produced some very effective political leaders in its time such as Bruce Eriksen, Jenny Kwan and Libby Davies. COPE was also home to one of Vancouver’s great politicians Harry Rankin. Whether you agreed with anything he said or not, you couldn’t dispute Rankin’s effectiveness.

Today COPE is Vision Vancouver’s handmaiden. With the exception of veteran Park Board commissioner Loretta Woodcock, the party appears to have abandoned its principles and is doing little but uphold the wishes of Mike Magee & the BCTF.

Whereas Vision Vancouver are a powerful, well-financed and disciplined political organization. They use populist politicking and poll-tested policy ideas in their attempts to keep voters happy. They are what the BC NDP would give their right pinky to become – young, green and flush with cash. They also give the appearance of being one step removed from Big Labour, unlike the BC NDP.

When it comes to political brands, the BC NDP carry a lot of baggage. Whereas Vision BC has a nice ring to it. It also has the telegenic and pleasingly empty mug of Gregor Robertson attached to it. Whereas after nearly a decade of trying, James has not caught on as a trusted leadership alternative.

We know that the backchatter on Vision is that they are extremely ambitious, and motivated to get out on the provincial political stage because they have much larger goals than a chicken in every backyard and separated bike lanes criss-crossing the city. They have a 500-year plan for systemic social change that with Robertson’s cooperation they’d like to crank up and kick into gear.

With so many direct links between Vision Vancouver and the BC NDP it’s not hard to imagine that the Vision BC machinery is steadily building itself to take power in 2013. There’s Tieleman himself, Geoff Meggs and his wife Jan O’Brien, the BC NDP Provincial Secretary. There are anti-Carole James dissidents like Jenny Kwan & Bob Simpson who are Vision friendlies.

The Vision brand carries not just a GQ image, but it successfully masks who’s pulling the levers in behind. Under Vision BC you don’t have to fret over whether Jim Sinclair is calling the shots. And who the heck knows the name of the Tennessean pulling the strings in Vision anyway?

These are indeed tumultuous times in BC politics, and there is a sense that something big is going to go down before May 2013. Is it the rise of Vision BC? Is it the collapse of the BC NDP? Oh, Christmas has certainly come early for those of us who watch politics!


Another recent column touching upon a similar topic and worth a look is from The Province‘s Michael Smyth, and it’s titled NDP leader’s enemies not sheathing knives.

– post by Mike

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  • First order of business by Premier Robertson: declare Cortes Island an off-shore provincial tax haven.

  • Higgins

    Vision BC sounds even worse than Vision Vancouver, Mike.
    It bothers me that a bunch of bums that didn’t put a collective hour of work in their entire lives move monies from one ‘charity’ to the other in order to finance what it appears to be the biggest swindle in BC’s recent history. These guys have never produced anything for ‘human approval’ other than juicy bulls***. NOTHING. NADA. ZILCH. They live in Spin! Their ONLY occupation was to advocate, consult, show the light, GIVE OPINIONS, have 500 YEARS visions…hard,real honest work is something they repel. NO ONE but NO ONE spends large amounts of monies simply for ‘advocacy’. When I called them ‘communists’ not long ago in a post, I got a nice bashing on Frances Bula’s site. But don’t be fooled, they are not communists, nooo Sireee Bob, they only act like communists, but at heart they are nothing but greedy capitalist porkers. Just like the Wall Street hooligans that destroyed the world finance, they are the Maddoffs of BC, and so far without our approval all Vancouverites ‘invested’ with them. How does that Olympic Village Portfolio working for you now, eh?
    Vision BC? I just puked for the second time in my mouth. But don’t ask a city worker any of the above because they can’t talk as they are currently leashed and muffled. There, third time…

  • Max

    Can you imagine how much financial damage a ‘Vision BC’ party could do to this province?
    I mean, the bike lanes alone from Vancouver to Dawson Creek would cost billions, and then we would have to invest snow blowers to keep the lanes clean and clear from October to May…..
    Bloody scary.

  • NDP dissenters

    Bye bye Carole, hello Gregor. He’s our only hope. If he could become mayor, he has a chance of becoming premier. Quit now and save us a lot of agony.
    Your former supporters

  • Sandra Chamberlain-Snider

    ummm, wouldn’t Vision be financially hamstrung by provincial laws around political donations? As in foreign donors are illegal at the provincial level, right?

  • gregory

    Vision is an American dirty tricks organization with Acorn in New Westminster waiting in the wings to sign up deceased people and illegal voters to vote in advance polls.
    Might be interesting to see James run for another party other than the NDP if they turf her.

  • Glissando Remmy

    The Thought of The Evening
    “More and more I’m starting to believe that the obfuscated NDP voter is one and the same with the unisex VISION voter.”
    NDP Dissenter,
    at first, I thought that your Dick and your Brain were different body organs; in the spirit of fairness however, I have to admit that…I was wrong.
    Don’t worry though my dear Reptilian.
    This comrade is my say:
    For your pallid complexion,
    Use Corteson, twice a day,
    Apply with affection.
    ‘Cause, come next November,
    The Hollyhock Erection,
    Will try at all costs,
    To avoid pub(l)ic detection.
    Don’t shake again lil’ Jake,
    Prepare your ‘ejection’,
    And for Goodness sake,
    This time, use some protection!
    And have you heard the good news? Gregor is going to work the Crapophone lines on the America/ Vancouver show!
    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Herb Barbolet

    “It is not just wishful thinking when I say that the BC NDP is clearly imploding.”
    Would it not be in your own self interest to be a bit more circumspect in wishing (advocating) for one party (yours) control of the instrument of power?

  • @Sandra. Actually, those rules only apply at the federal, not provincial, level. Complicated, I know, but the fact is in BC foreign campaign donations are allowed at the municipal and provincial level.

  • Fred

    Vision BC.
    Should play well outside of downtown latte liberal Vancouver.
    Or maybe not. Cortes Island eco-hippy utopian environmentalists vs people who drive trucks, cut down trees and mine minerals out of the earth.

  • Sandra Chamberlain-Snider

    Thanks Mike, I had thought we had changed the rules for foreign donation here in BC. I hope we can reform the laws around campaign donors. The perception that our politicians can be influenced by deep pockets that do not reflect our local values has a detrimental effect on increasing voter turnout, in my opinion.
    Whether or not its true, the perception gets out there and a lot of people may think, why bother voting when it doesnt seem to matter.

  • Max

    Weren’t the laws surrounding political donations to be disucssed during the upcoming Provincial spring legisltion in order to stem the flow of union, corporate and foreign donations?

  • landlord

    “control of the instrument of power”. As Vision is learning power is a funny thing. In Canada the theory is that, ultimately, power rests in the hands of the majority.
    In fact municipal councils have strictly limited powers, and a good thing too. They are all the creatures of Provincial legislation and rely to varying degrees on funding from Provincial Ministries (Housing, for example).
    In a brilliant demonstration of the use of power, the Campbell cabinet permitted Vision to go out and borrow $1 Billion. They knew exactly what would happen. The idea was to brand the left as fiscally incompetent yet again.
    The Vision “strategists” played right into their hands and got totally owned. Welcome to the NFL, rookies.

  • Second order of business by Premier Robertson: raise ICBC premiums and put in vehicle levies to pay off the hundreds of millions in Olympic Village debt.
    Third order of business: revive the fast ferries program.

  • The change of the act concerning local elections (to be voted upon in the spring) in BC did not recommend limiting donations from outside BC. Nor did it limit the amount a single person or group could spend, as is the case with federal legislation. It did however suggest limits, but it has not set those limits yet.

  • landlord

    Only this time they run on hemp oil or bio-diesel, with upgrades to the dock on Cortes.