Will Wai Young scuttle the NPA’s mission to win back city hall?

NPA president doesn’t want to see vote split in this fall’s municipal election

The president of the Non-Partisan Association acknowledged Tuesday that his party doesn’t want to see a vote split between the NPA and a new coalition that has formed to back former Conservative MP Wai Young for mayor in this fall’s municipal election.

But Gregory Baker said the election isn’t until October and a lot can change on the political landscape before voters go to the polls, including the NPA and Young uniting to ensure the ruling Vision Vancouver doesn’t win a fourth term at city hall.

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“We don’t want to split our vote,” Baker told the Courier. “She’s definitely entrenched on the right [of the political spectrum]. My focus is on the centre, the centre-right. But I think it’s still early in the game. I think a lot can change. As I’ve discovered with municipal politics, it can change on a daily basis.”

Young had requested an application from the NPA to seek the mayoral candidate’s position. But Baker said he has not heard from her and is aware of a new group called Coalition Vancouver that is backing Young for mayor.

“Maybe we can come together as a team—I’m hoping that we can—behind a great candidate,” he said. “I’m happy to talk to Wai anytime she wants. I think that conversation may come—I’m hoping anyways. I don’t want to push people away, my goal is to bring our group together.”

The Courier attempted to reach Young before this story was posted, but was unsuccessful.

A website, votewaiyoung.com, described Coalition Vancouver as “a society of community-minded Vancouver residents, business operators or owners, workers and other people and organizations who wish to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life and towards building stronger communities in the City of Vancouver.”

The site goes on to say the society will not be driven by any political ideology but is “democratic, open, welcoming and inclusive” and dedicated to “building a sustainable, affordable, accessible, vibrant, healthy and prosperous Vancouver for all.”

Having two parties compete for like-minded voters was not a scenario imagined a couple of months ago when it appeared the NPA stood alone in its battle to win back city hall from Vision Vancouver.

Hector Bremner cruised to an easy victory in last October’s byelection as the NPA’s council candidate. His victory came largely because various parties and candidates on the left of the political spectrum, including the Greens, OneCity, the COPE-backed independent Jean Swanson and Vision Vancouver all competed for votes.

In recent weeks, the so-called progressive parties have been meeting to create a strategy to defeat the NPA, including choosing one mayoral candidate to represent the parties. So far, Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr and Shauna Sylvester, the director of Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, have emerged as possible candidates.

As for the NPA, Bremner, financial analyst Glen Chernen and urban geographer and film producer Colleen Hardwick plan to seek the nomination. Baker said another three to four candidates could emerge before the party’s mayoral contest May 29 at the Hellenic Centre on Arbutus Street.

Originally, the NPA scheduled its mayoral nomination race for April 29. The May 29 date falls on a Tuesday. Historically, political parties in Vancouver have held nomination races on weekends to attract more members to vote.

“Frankly, I don’t see it as a problem being on a Tuesday,” said Baker,  noting details are still being worked out on how the meeting will proceed but suggested polls will likely be open during the day and into the early evening when candidates will make speeches.

He wouldn’t disclose the number of NPA members but said it was “in the thousands.” The party’s nomination races for city council, school board and park board will likely occur in mid-June.

The ruling Vision Vancouver has only two incumbent councillors—Raymond Louie and Heather Deal—seeking re-election. Mayor Gregor Robertson announced in January that he wasn’t seeking a fourth term at city hall, which triggered what has become a wide-open mayoral race.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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