Vision Vancouver dumps council candidate one day before election

Party has not given specifics why Wei Qiao Zhang, 36, lost his endorsement

Vision Vancouver announced Friday it has revoked the endorsement of council candidate Wei Qiao Zhang because he failed to disclose a recent incident that contravened the party's candidate agreement.

The news comes one day before the election and is a big blow to the party that has ruled city hall for a decade. Zhang’s ouster means Vision will only recognize four of its council candidates on the ballot.

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Ange Valentini, the party's executive director, declined to give specifics about the incident but said it occurred after the 36-year-old Zhang was endorsed as one of five Vision council candidates.

"There's some core values that all Vision Vancouver candidates are required to uphold, and that when a candidate fails to uphold those and they contravene their candidate agreement, we have a duty to take action and that's exactly what we're doing here," Valentini told the Courier. "There was an incident that happened recently while Mr. Zhang was a candidate, and it was not disclosed to the party."

Added Valentini: "The key issue here is the trust relationship between the candidate and the party, and the candidate did not bring it forward, did not disclose it and those are the grounds for the endorsement being revoked. We felt that not taking this action would compromise all the reasons why we are in public service."

Valentini said the incident is not related to a recent Twitter thread that suggested Zhang made disparaging remarks about Chinese seniors. 

If Zhang is elected, the party said he will not be part of Vision’s caucus and will have to sit as an independent. Zhang’s name appears on the ballot with Vision’s affiliation.

The Courier couldn’t reach Zhang before this story was posted. 

Zhang described himself in his biography on the city’s website as “a former athlete, talk show host and community leader.” He was also an assistant to Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies.

Zhang came to Canada from China as an international student. He has a degree in sociology and philosophy from the University of Toronto. He lives in Killarney with his wife and two young children.

In the 2017 provincial election, Zhang was an advisor to Premier John Horgan on Chinese issues.

In June, at his launch to win a council nomination, he said he was running “because I want your children and my children, when graduated from college, can see a future with a promising career and real chance to owning a home in Vancouver.”

Vision’s decision to part ways with Zhang comes after the party’s mayoral candidate, Ian Campbell, withdrew from the race in early September.

Campbell, a hereditary chief with the Squamish Nation, said in a statement that he withdrew after reflecting on the “political landscape and my complicated personal journey.”

The party did not find a replacement for Campbell. This election is the first time in Vision's history that the party will not run a mayoral candidate, or enough candidates to win a majority at city hall.

Note: This story has been updated since first posted.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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