Bremner fiasco reveals NPA’s problematic power shift

Moments after I spotted NPA president Gregory Baker’s email in my inbox Monday morning, I leapt into action. The email was to tell the world that Baker had sent a letter to Hector Bremner detailing the reasons the NPA Board did not approve his mayoral application. The email also noted Bremner was “within his rights” to share the contents of that letter.

I immediately sent Bremner an email, which I feel I can share with you, although, given the sensitivity of the issue, not in its entirety.

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It read: “Could you please send me a copy of that letter?”


Bremner would later post a comment on his Facebook page saying there was nothing new in the letter and he would have a more fulsome response in the days ahead. Perhaps he would give us details on why his rejection was “racist” as he claimed, rather than a matter of his political incompetence on a number of scores including dealing with conflicts of interest at the council table.

Meanwhile, nothing by my deadline.

It must indeed seem puzzling that a sitting councillor was not approved to at least take a run at the nomination, even though he had been on council only a matter of weeks when he announced his intentions; and his only political activity in the past was losing a bid to sit in the legislature as the Liberal MLA from New Westminster.

Aside from that, he most recently fetched coffee for a couple of cabinet ministers in Christy Clark’s Liberal government and became a vice-president of the Pace Group — a favourite advocacy and advertising outfit for the centre-right in town.

Pace Group’s client list includes developer Francesco Aquilini, which led to at least one conflict stumble for councillor Bremner.

(Amusingly, Aquilini has two horses in this race now that Squamish hereditary chief and developer Ian Campbell is being touted by Vision power-brokers as a possible mayor. Aquilini is partners with the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish nations in what will be the biggest development project in the city’s recent history.)

But back to the puzzle. Bremner is the guy who last fall won his party’s nomination to run in October’s byelection to fill a council seat vacated by Vision Councillor Geoff Meggs. Bremner won the seat, albeit with a rather modest 27 per cent of the vote, and proved the left in this town to be a shattered force.

He soon announced he would seek the mayor’s spot only to be rebuffed by the very same party he had served so well. Or was it the same party? And did he serve them well?

To answer these questions you first have to understand the puppet master pulling Bremner’s strings is Mark Marissen. He’s Christy Clark’s ex and a major West Coast federal Liberal operator who dabbles in provincial and municipal politics. In his last municipal outing in 2004, he failed calamitously when he tried to get Clark the NPA nomination but got snookered by Sam Sullivan.

One way to ensure a shot at a nomination of your choice is to load up the party or riding executive at its annual general meeting. This, by the way, is how all democratic political parties operate. Folks who fail to control the party hierarchy, not uncommonly, leave. That’s how OneCity came into being when it split from COPE.

Marissen took enough control of the NPA to influence Bremner getting the nod for the byelection. But, at the most recent NPA AGM, there was a power shift.

Marissen lost and Glen Chernen’s crowd gained influence.

Bremner knew he was in trouble. This was no longer his puppet master’s NPA. That’s why he tried but failed to have his lawyer join him in the Green Light interview process.

Chernen ran as a mayoral candidate in years past for his own Cedar Party. He is even more erratic and less qualified for the job than Bremner. Yet he was one of three to gain the NPA’s mayoral nomination nod.

He will prove to be a bigger problem for the NPA should he win in the end. And the more sane members of the NPA know it.

Meanwhile what we are watching is Marissen and Bremner seeking their revenge for past and present slights, hoping to destroy the NPA.


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