Message to COPE
members and Supporters

Dear Friends,

This has been an intense two weeks. COPE had a jam-packed AGM. The NPA defeated incumbent Mayor Sam Sullivan and nominated Peter Ladner, who has voted with Sam on 99.9 per cent of the issues. And Vision Vancouver nominated Gregor Robertson as its mayoral candidate.

In his acceptance speech, Gregor reached out to COPE. I have conveyed congratulations to him and asked for a meeting to discuss how we can work together to defeat Ladner and the NPA this November. Our negotiating team looks forward to sitting down with Gregor on the basis of the proposals we’ve made to Vision — a joint mayor, joint slate, co-operative campaign and common platform.

Vancouver faces enormous challenges. There is a health crisis in the Downtown East Side, affordable housing is being replaced by million dollar condos, tenants are facing skyrocketing rents, and many seniors are at risk of homelessness. While working people, students and seniors watch crowded buses pass them by, Ladner and the NPA supported fare hikes. And while we need a real environmental policy, the NPA is pushing its so-called ‘eco-density’ plan – which is just a cover for increasing developer profits.

COPE Cllr David Cadman says that “what makes this year especially exciting for us is that finally a Vancouver municipal election will be fought over affordable housing, transportation and environmental sustainability. These are COPE’s issues, since we began in 1968. Furthermore, the nomination of Mr. Robertson creates an important opportunity for our city. The numbers are clear, if we work together, we can return progressive government to City Hall.”

The stakes are just as high at Park and School Board where COPE representatives have held the NPA to account and put forward real solutions.

COPE park commissioners worked with community groups to defeat ridiculous NPA schemes like trading public space in Pacific Spirit Park for an elite private golf course, cutting community centre funding, putting robot dinosaurs in Stanley Park, and erecting a giant, for-profit tourist tower over Queen Elizabeth Park.

Allied with parents and teachers, COPE school trustees stopped the sale of public school property, advocated for students with special needs, called attention to the immediate need for seismic upgrading, and saved two vital elementary annexes from closing.

COPE must remain a vital part of city government so our priorities, principles and values continue to shape Vancouver for another four decades.

That’s why your COPE Executive remains committed to pursuing a principled coalition with other progressive groups to defeat the NPA. We’ll work hard to make sure that happens, but we are also continuing our preparations for an independent campaign if that becomes necessary.

Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to seeing you at the COPE Annual Salmon Barbecue on July 17 at the Stanley Park Rowing Club.

Ellen Woodsworth,
External Co-Chairperson

Meena Wong
seeks COPE council nomination

Community activist Meena Wong announced on June 18 that she is seeking a COPE nomination for Vancouver city council in this November’s civic election.

"Vancouver is facing serious challenges in increasing homelessness, the lack of affordable housing, the need for more transit, and developing a real plan for sustainable development that takes into account the environment while respecting the needs of all residents and neighbourhoods," said Meena.

"Over the past three years we have watched Vancouver slide backwards. Peter Ladner, along with Sam Sullivan and his NPA colleagues cut affordable housing at South East False Creek as the homeless population increased by almost 20 per cent since they took office in 2005.

"The NPA stood by and did little to get more buses on the road while working people, the elderly and students pay higher fares to cram into too few buses.

"Peter Ladner and the NPA are prepared to waste tax dollars on private security, while ordinary homeowners have seen their taxes jump by 15 percent.

"And the NPA have divided communities and neighbourhoods as they bungled and mishandled their eco-density scheme."

"I believe that we can do better for Vancouver," said Meena.

Meena is a Chinese community outreach and media liaison coordinator with environmental and other non-profit organizations. She worked on the 2005 COPE campaign and was elected to the COPE Executive on June 01. Meena is also on the boards of the Civic Education Society and the Little Pear Garden Collective.

Meena also works with the Chinese Head Tax Families Society, the Formosa Organic Blueberry Farm campaign to protect farmland from Gateway highway expansion, and the Save Our Rivers Society where she raises awareness within the Chinese speaking community about plans to sell BC’s rivers to private for-profit power developers.

As a founder of the Chinese Action Committee, Meena works to increase social activism within the Chinese Canadian community. Over the past three years, she has hosted a monthly Dim Sum luncheon that brings together members of the immigrant and mainstream Canadian communities.

Meena writes a weekly column for the Chinese language paper Dawa Business Press, is a public affairs commentator on local Mandarin and Cantonese TV and radio talk shows, and will soon be hosting a bi-lingual morning talk show on a local community radio station.

Having lived in Beijing, Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver, Meena is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. She has diverse experience in community outreach, media relations, education, arts, business, and in IT sectors.

“I believe in building a city where everyone matters," said Meena. "I believe that Vancouver should be measured not by the height of its buildings, but by how it takes care of all its residents – especially those who are homeless, or who are new to this city, or whose voices have been ignored by city hall."

COPE‘s Annual Summer Salmon BBQ – Save the Date!

Mark your calendars for COPE’s annual Summer Salmon BBQ at the beautiful Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park on Thursday, July 17. Enjoy great views, delicious food and fun at the signature event of the summer.

Todd Wong of "Gung Haggis Fat Choy" (http://www.gunghaggisfatchoy.com/) will be performing as part of a soon to be announced line-up! More details coming soon…

Tickets are $60 and can be obtained by calling the COPE office at 604-255-0400 or e-mailing Rachel at rachel@cope.bc.ca.

Ben Swankey has
written an autobiography!

You are cordially invited to join us in celebrating the launch of What’s New? Memoirs of a Socialist Idealist by long time COPE activist Ben Swankey.

This would be a wonderful occasion to bring together the many friends with whom Ben has been associated in the struggle for social justice. We will be delighted if you join us for this celebration.

Date: Sat, June 28, 2008
Time: 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Place: New Vista Care Home – main floor, 7550 Rosewood St, Burnaby, BC

Please respond by Sun, June 22. Please e-mail swankeyfamily@gmail.com or leave a phone message at one of the two numbers below:

(604) 929-2319 (Barb & Tom Swankey), (604) 437-8386 (Ken & June Williams)

Hoping to see you there,

Ben’s family.

June 20, 2008: Message to Members; Wong seeks COPE nomination; Salmon BBQ

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