The only representative of COPE to be elected in the last municipal election has joined Vision Vancouver.
Vision officially welcomed Vancouver School Board trustee Allan Wong on Dec. 8.
The five-term trustee first elected in 1999 left the COPE executive in October. Wong said he left because the party wasn’t paying enough attention to education. He said he joined Vision because it boasts a strong educational team. With his departure from COPE, six of the nine trustees on the board hail from Vision and three from the NPA.
Tim Louis, COPE’s internal chairperson, said COPE puts education and Wong on the agenda of its monthly executive meetings.
He says in three years, Wong has only attended once.
“I’ve always considered Allan Wong to be a very sincere and fair and genuine individual,” Louis said. “That having been said, his decision to cross the floor would certainly confirm that his values are more closely aligned with Vision Vancouver than they did with COPE.”
Louis maintains Vision values its relationships with developers too much and does not demand the city’s fair share of financial contributions from developers to fund childcare facilities, community centres and park space. He said trustees should be advocates for children beyond the school board.
Louis believes Wong broke his contract with voters by switching parties mid-term, disappointing voters as former MP David Emerson did when he switched from the Liberals to the Conservatives in 2006.
The former COPE councillor said Wong’s defection and other recent resignations from COPE’s executive are not a blow to the party that last celebrated electoral success in a landslide victory at city council and the park and school boards in 2002. He argued COPE can now present a clear alternative to Vision instead of running with a joint slate as it has in the previous two elections.
“I look at excitement at the success of what is no doubt the very best councillor on [city] council right now, the Green Party councillor Adriane Carr. When she ran, her party had nobody on council, the budget was very small, it was a shoestring budget, but she offered and continues to offer a clear alternative to the two developer parties,” he said.
“And that’s what COPE is now free to do. We’re no longer fighting an internal battle inside COPE to cling to the mistaken belief that we should continue to be a Vision Vancouver appendage.”
Wong says he particularly enjoys working alongside Vision school board representatives Patti Bacchus, Mike Lombardi and Ken Clement. He plans to maintain close contact with COPE members behind the Justice Not Charity Working Group including Jane Bouey, Al Blakey, Ruth Herman and Noel Herron. The group wants to end food insecurity in schools.
“I’ve got the best of both worlds,” he said.
“If they were to run, Jane Bouey in particular, Al Blakey, if they were to run under whatever other organization they may fall under, I will have full support for them,” Wong added.