COPE calls on Vision to refrain from imminent eviction of Oppenheimer Park homeless tenters

tentcityThe Coalition of Progressive Electors stands in solidarity with the tent city at Oppenheimer Park, and calls on Vision Vancouver to refrain from using its unconstitutional anti-tenting Bylaws to evict those tenting in the park.

Vancouver City Council passed a resolution June 25th, 2014 acknowledging that Vancouver occupies unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

In an open letter to the City of Vancouver, the residents of Oppenheimer Park tent city declared:

The City of Vancouver recognizes the unceded and enduring existence of our Aboriginal Title here. Under this recognition, we now require that you leave this place and cease any attempts to remove people or their belongings from this place. Because we are the title holders to this land, we assert that you do not have jurisdiction over this place until such time as our title to it is lawfully resolved. Any actions against this camp are thereby unlawful actions against our title; we demand an immediate cease and desist of action or the threat of action against this camp or those within it.

In the wake of the Idle No More movement and the Year of Reconciliation, COPE believes that the city can’t stop at symbolic gestures.

“Recognizing this is indigenous land is not a symbolic act. It must change the way the City treats the land and indigenous people. Park Rangers walking into this tent city, with its important message about inequality and indigenous sovereignty, threatening to use force to arrest people, steal their belongings, and dismantle the longhouse they have built, is totally unacceptable. Recognition without action is hypocrisy,” said COPE Co-Chair Heather Gies.

Twice Vision Vancouver has created new anti-structures bylaws they have used to fine homeless people for sleeping outdoors, and protest camps by groups like the Falun Gong. In 2013, the Vision-led council attempted to increase the fine for homelessness up to $10,000, which was challenged by Pivot Legal Society.

Some of the campers are recent evictees from the York Hotel, and many say they are safer in the camp than in SROs, where bed bugs, overcrowding, and unlivable conditions are the norm. The City of Vancouver says they are trying to find shelter spots, but that provides no long-term stability or security for people without housing, Shelters are not homes, and are not an acceptable replacement for actual affordable and social housing.

The Adams v. Victoria BC Supreme Court decision established that it is unconstitutional to punish people for sleeping outside when there is no adequate housing. Right now in Vancouver, homelessness is at its highest rate in recorded history. There are fewer emergency shelters this year than in past years, and all the winter shelters have been closed. Meanwhile, renovictions are increasing as landlords upscale their buildings in the context of Vision’s gentrification plans for DTES, Grandview-Woodlands and other neighbourhoods.

Rosanne Gervais, COPE’s Aboriginal Caucus Representative said: “The City of Vancouver has not taken steps to protect SRO’s from renoviction and has stepped back its plans to build social housing that is affordable for low-income people. Now they are trying to hide the city-wide homelessness that is a direct result. Until the City of Vancouver takes real actions towards ending homelessness and finds solutions to the problems it has created, it has no business using force to try to hide the problem it refuses to solve.”

COPE denounces sexist personal attacks on Park Board Candidate

The Coalition of Progressive Electors denounces attacks made on Trish Kelly in response to her performance in a sex-positive video.

This is not the first time women’s personal lives, bodies, and sexuality have been unnecessarily dragged into the discussion and made to overshadow their politics, and that is unacceptable. It is already difficult enough for women to participate as candidates, and women should not be bullied out of an election race.

The bullying and additional scrutiny that women candidates face is sexist and reinforces the huge disparity between men and women in politics at all levels. In municipal governments across Canada, on average, only 26% of City Councillors are women.

In Vancouver specifically, we have never had a female mayor or a majority of women on Council. Provincially, women don’t fare much better, filling only 35% of the seats in the BC legislature. We must do all that we can to rectify these disparities, rather than allow female candidates to be publically shamed and further marginalized.

People of all political parties and all genders must be especially vigilant to ensure that politics is an open and safe space for women and other non-male identified participants.

We all have to support women, and other marginalized groups, in running for office. We must collectively take a strong stand against personal, gendered, and misogynistic attacks on their candidacy. We must stand together against all forms of discrimination and bullying. Only then can we work towards creating a government that truly represents the diversity of our city.

COPE brings renters and indigenous leaders onto Executive

COPE brings renters and indigenous leaders onto Executive

The membership of the Coalition of Progressive Electors have elected a new Executive Board and adopted their 2014 election platform.

Positions elected to the Executive include:

Co-Chairs: Tim Louis, Heather Gies
Recording Secretary: Maria Wallstam
Membership Secretary: Herb Varley
Fundraiser: Maureen Bourke
Members-at-Large: Kombii Nanjalah, Alex Mierke-Zatwarnicki, Karen Gilchrist, Charlene Sayo, Anita Romaniuk, and Allison Mcdonald

As well, representatives from five Equity caucuses were elected to voting positions on the Executive:

Aboriginal Caucus: Rosanne Gervais
Disability Caucus: Stephen Lytton
LGBPQ (lesbian, gay, bi, pan, and queer) Caucus: John Yano
Racialized Caucus: Imtiaz Popat
Transgender Caucus: Jamie Lee Hamilton

COPE’s 2014 election platform features COPE’s Housing Authority, which will build real affordable social housing funded in part by a Luxury Housing Tax and levies on private real estate corporations.

Platform promises also include a proposal for a Universal Transit Pass for all Vancouverites and a community-based Sanctuary City policy.

Heather Gies, newly elected Co-Chair, said: “I’m excited to be co-Chair of a municipal party that has a majority of women, and indigenous people represented in its leadership. We have a diverse executive, with a core group of committed community activists and newly ratified equity committees. COPE is the only major civic party not funded by real estate development corporations and it’s one I’m proud to be part of.”

COPE’s Tim Louis said: “We are challenging Vision Vancouver, the developer party, and I’m thrilled to see that COPE, the people’s party, is more united than ever.”

COPE to elect new Executive board and adopt its 2014 platform this Sunday

COPE to elect new Executive board and adopt its 2014 platform this Sunday

On Sunday, July 6th, 2014, the Coalition of Progressive Electors will hold its Annual General Meeting. Members will vote on eleven positions for the Executive Board including co-chairs, adopt the 2014 election platform for the municipal election, and ratify the five new Equity positions.

Date: July 6th, 2014
Location: Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
Address: 154 East 10th Avenue (on 10th Avenue between Main Street and Quebec)
Registration: 1:00pm
Call to order: 2:00pm

Press Release: at 10pm (PST) on Sunday, July 6th, a one-page overview of the highlights of the AGM, including election results, will be released.

COPE announces Nomination process to ensure open politics

COPE announces Nomination process to ensure open politics

Today, the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) has announced its 2014 Nomination process and launched the COPE 2014 Nomination Guide. COPE is the only civic party in this year’s election whose candidates will be democratically selected by the party’s membership.

The Nominations process is based on COPE’s commitment to open politics and participatory decision-making. As part of the process, COPE will hold internal candidates debates to ensure that the voices of all nominees are heard equally. COPE will also organize mentorship nights to help nominees and volunteers develop skills relevant to campaigning. These processes, in conjunction COPE’s new equity policy for elections, guarantee an open and transparent Nominations process that encourages diverse participation.

This open and democratic Nominations process is a continuation of both COPE’s history as a progressive democratic party and the success of the March 29-30, 2014 Policy Conference, where COPE membership collectively decided on COPE’s 2014 election platform.

“With our Nominations process, we want to make sure that there is an even and inclusive playing field for all potential nominees,” said Gretchen Dulmage, member of the COPE Elections Planning Committee and Executive Board. “We want anyone who supports and is passionate about COPE’s policies to be able to come forward as a nominee. And we want them to feel supported and empowered in the process.”

“If you have something to say about municipal politics and the pressing issues in our city, now is your opportunity to get involved. All voices will be heard in our process,” added Dulmage.

Nominees will campaign throughout the summer in advance of COPE’s Nominating Conference on September 7, 2014.

COPE held a press conference today at 10:30 a.m. on the north steps of City Hall to officially announce the Nominations process.