Ex-NPAers start their own Vancouver party

'TEAM' to run candidates in 2014 civic election

The political landscape leading up the 2014 civic election is shifting as a new party that includes community activists, former politicians and a retired judge is gearing up to take a run at city hall.

The Electors Action Movement of the Lower Mainland Association, or TEAM, says it has almost 100 members and plans to run a mayoral candidate in the 2014 race as it battles the ruling Vision Vancouver, the NPA and COPE.

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Weve been forming since last November and meeting every couple of weeks, said Bill McCreery, an organizer who ran unsuccessfully for a council seat with the NPA in the 2011 election.

The partys membership includes former NPA councillor Jonathan Baker, retired University of B.C. political science professor Paul Tennant and Ian Pitfield, a recently retired B.C. Supreme Court judge whose 2011 decision allowed the Insite supervised injection site to remain open indefinitely.

Other members include Doreen Braverman, founder of the Flag Shop, Dunbar community activist Mike Andruff, film producer and one-time NPA candidate Colleen Hardwick and Dave Pasin, also a former NPA candidate.

The TEAM name may be familiar to some, as it was the name the late mayor Art Phillips adopted in the 1970s to form an alternative to the NPA and COPE.

The name is not to be confused with a party called vcaTEAM, which ran 15 candidates, including mayoral candidate Valerie Maclean in the 2002 election. The party failed to win a seat in what was a COPE landslide.

McCreery cited several reasons for leaving the NPA, including being sidelined from a bigger media profile during the 2011 campaign. He was also unhappy the party failed to attract more moderate voices like those of former councillors Peter Ladner and Gordon Price.

When he was a party member, McCreery tried to change the NPAs name to Vancouver First. At the time, he said the NPA needed to become more inclusive, relevant and effective within the present day political reality. NPA party members voted 36-6 to keep the name.

The new version of TEAM wants more neighbourhood consultation on development and plans to distance itself from the perception that parties can be bought by developers.

McCreery said the party will limit donations to $1,200 per person per year. Current laws governing civic campaigns are wide open, with the NPA and Vision raising and spending several million dollars each in previous campaigns.

The emergence of TEAM comes as the NPA has rebranded itself, launching a new website over the weekend and dropping its traditional red and blue colours for purple and a new logo.

In my mind, it was the red and blue coming together as purple, said NPA board member Robert McDowell, when asked why the party changed its colours. The whole idea is unification and unity and moving together as one.

Added McDowell: The name is the same and it will stay the same. But I think the look is a lot more hip and interesting.

The rebranding stems from the NPA forming a renewal committee after the 2011 election, which left the party with a combined seven seats on council, school board and park board.

McDowell noted the party is 76 years old and it was time to refresh the brand that once dominated civic politics until Vision Vancouver emerged almost a decade ago and won consecutive majorities in the 2008 and 2011 campaigns.

McDowell said the NPA has between 600 and 700 members and expects to attract more people as the election in the fall of 2014 nears closer.

As for his thoughts on McCreerys new party: We wish him well.

mhowell@vancourier.com

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