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NPA councillors ‘taken aback’ at their party’s selection of mayoral candidate

John Coupar’s appointment not ‘open, transparent or democratic’
Colleen Hardwick is among the trio of NPA city councillors who issued a statement Tuesday that criticized their own party’s board for appointing a mayoral candidate. File photo Dan Toulgoet
Three NPA city councillors say they were “taken aback” by the decision of their party’s board to appoint a mayoral candidate for the next civic election in October 2022.

Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick and Sarah Kirby-Yung released a statement Tuesday after the party issued a news release Monday announcing that longtime park board commissioner John Coupar was selected as the party’s candidate.

“Many have asked when we found out, and the answer is immediately ahead of the media announcement,” the councillors’ statement said.

“We are extremely disappointed there was no open, transparent and democratic mayoral call for candidates, or application or nomination process, thus eliminating any opportunity for elected women in the NPA caucus to participate, or for any others to submit expressions of interest.”

Both Hardwick and Kirby-Yung have long been rumoured to be interested in a run for mayor in 2022. The party has typically held a nomination meeting for a mayoral candidate, as it did in 2018 but took the appointment route in the 2014 race with Kirk LaPointe and in 2011 with Suzanne Anton.

“The people of Vancouver are looking for transparent, strong leadership they can trust,” the statement continued.

“The actions of the board executive fall short of this standard. We also note this action was not accompanied by any commitment to hold an open AGM as we have and continue to call for, and that will enable NPA members to gather and participate in their party.”

The statement did not include NPA Coun. Melissa De Genova, who retweeted a media story this week announcing that Coupar was the NPA’s candidate.

De Genova said in an email Wednesday that "I don’t see the board’s actions as being as limiting as my colleagues do. As a caucus, our focus has been to get a new board elected at an open and transparent AGM.  This is important because it is the path to ensure the NPA board reflects the values and ideals of members and city residents.  That is still my focus and it is something that John now will have to help deliver on."

The NPA board is expected to hold an annual general meeting this year and — depending on the turnout and interest — could lead to a change in the make-up of the board.

In theory, that could lead a new board to rescind the decision to appoint Coupar and launch a nomination battle for a mayoral candidate.

Coupar participated in a nomination battle in 2018 but lost to Ken Sim, who went on to lead the party in the mayoral race, losing to Kennedy Stewart by 958 votes.

Stewart and Sim are both running again, although Sim has yet to reveal with which party but has said he has been part of a “movement” that has raised more than $420,000.

Coupar told Glacier Media Monday that he was confident he could bring the party’s caucus together and get their support in his run for mayor.

“I’ve been the caucus chair and I’ve worked with them all, and I’ve worked extremely well with councillor Kirby-Yung when we were on the park board together for four years, and I hope that they see the value in my experience,” Coupar said. “They know my style and they know that I’m a collaborative person, and I hope that we can all come together.”

Added Coupar: “Politics is often messy, but I think we can find a way forward.”

Note: This story has been updated since first posted to include a comment from Coun. Melissa De Genova.

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