A much anticipated two days of meetings this weekend of the city’s so-called progressive parties could bring Vancouverites closer to learning whether Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr will run for mayor in this October’s municipal election.
For several weeks, Carr has been sending letters and speaking to representatives of Vision Vancouver, COPE and OneCity about winning their support for her potential mayoral run. Carr wants to gauge their interest before making a decision whether to run for mayor, or seek re-election as a councillor.
So far, she has heard from OneCity, which announced via Twitter April 28 that the party “will not be supporting her at this stage.” COPE said it is open to further discussions with Carr, while Vision Vancouver’s decision is pending.
“We appreciate councillor Carr’s interest and her desire to have an answer,” said Michael Haack, a Vision spokesperson, in an email Monday to the Courier. “We will respond to her request as part of our unfolding process.”
Carr requested in her letters to parties that she receive a response before this weekend’s meetings involving members of the Greens, COPE, OneCity, Vision and Team Jean, which is loosely affiliated with COPE.
If Vision doesn’t support Carr, then it’s likely the popular city councillor—she topped the polls in the 2014 election—will not make a run to replace the retiring Mayor Gregor Robertson in the Oct. 20 election.
“If OneCity is saying ‘not at this time’ and Vision says no, you can pretty reliably guess what my decision will be,” Carr said Monday.
Carr’s party and the others will meet over two days beginning Sunday. The Vancouver and District Labour Council, which has historically been an influencing force for centre-left parties, is facilitating the talks with the goal of finalizing a slate of candidates for council, school board and park board. The labour council represents 50,000 union members in Vancouver.
Although choosing one mayoral candidate to represent the Greens, Vision, COPE, Team Jean and OneCity is not on this weekend’s agenda, it will certainly be on the minds of many as parties consider possible candidates on the centre-left, including Carr and independent candidate Shauna Sylvester.
Transgender trailblazer Morgane Oger, a vice-president of the provincial NDP, and University of B.C. urban planning professor Patrick Condon have also expressed interest in running for mayor. Vision Vancouver has received interest from Coun. Raymond Louie and others who have not been named by the party.
“There’s a lot of pieces on the chess table right now,” said Carr in going over possible scenarios that would seal her decision, including a Vision endorsement and COPE and OneCity choosing not to run mayoral candidates.
Stephen von Sychowski, president of the labour council, said choosing a mayoral candidate this weekend is not a “pre-condition” of the talks but acknowledged the meetings could shift to focus on who is the best candidate to replace Robertson.
“We want to achieve an idea of what the numbers of candidates would look like for different boards and council,” von Sychowski said. “In terms of mayor, that may end up becoming part of that as well, or it may be something we return to very shortly thereafter.”
The goal of the meetings, he said, is to reach common ground among the organizations on various issues facing the city such as housing affordability and homelessness. He emphasized the council doesn’t favour supporting “50 to 60 candidates” for city council for fear of vote siphoning on the centre-left, which would give rise to the Non-Partisan Association.
“We’re not trying to merge everyone here into one party,” he said. “That’s clearly not a realistic outcome currently. What’s important is to find that common ground and realize it doesn’t make sense to split the vote so many numerous ways.”
Even if a tentative agreement is reached this weekend, von Sychowski said, the parties all have their own democratic processes that involve members voting on their preferred candidates. OneCity, however, has already turned down Carr—for now.
Anna Chudnovsky, co-chairperson of OneCity, said the party’s decision was based on Carr not providing enough details on her potential campaign.
“At this point, we don’t know what she’s running on,” said Chudnovsky, noting the party is still open to further talks with Carr. “We haven’t seen a platform or any policies, as of yet. So, as we’ve said the whole time, we’re not supporting an affiliated mayoralty candidate. We’re not supporting anyone else at this point, either.”
Chudnovsky acknowledged parties don’t typically release detailed platforms until closer to the election. OneCity will do the same, she said, but noted the party has not sought endorsements—like Carr is doing--from other parties this early in an election year.
“What we’re most focused on is these discussions happening this weekend, and we want to be able to go into those open to some content and some discussion around how we can come together,” she said. “But at this point, given that we didn’t actually hear any of the substantial policy pieces that any of the mayoralty candidates are running on, we’re not supporting any of them.”
Connie Hubbs, co-chairperson of COPE, said the party isn’t ruling out supporting Carr for mayor, or at least not running a mayoral candidate against her. Hubbs said the discussions at this weekend’s meetings should bring more clarity to COPE’s position.
“We certainly haven’t made a statement on [whether the party will support Carr], and at this stage we’re not planning to,” she said. “But I realize Adriane wants to make a decision and move on.”
The NPA, meanwhile, has its mayoral nomination meeting scheduled for May 29. So far, Coun. Hector Bremner, park board commissioner John Coupar, financial analyst Glen Chernen, entrepreneur Ken Sim and businessman George Steeves are the party’s candidates.