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Trio of city councillors leaves Vancouver's NPA party

Colleen Hardwick, Lisa Dominato and Sarah Kirby-Yung upset over party’s appointment of John Coupar as mayoral candidate
Vancouver City Hall. Three NPA councillors have announced they are leaving the party | Photo: Dan Toulgoet

Three serving NPA councillors announced Wednesday they are leaving the party because of being “blindsided” by the organization’s decision to appoint John Coupar as its mayoral candidate in the 2022 election.

In a news release, Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick and Sarah Kirby-Yung said they will sit as a group of independents, calling the party’s move to appoint Coupar a “secret backroom decision.” 

“We have heard loud and clear from NPA members and supporters that the actions of the board and John Coupar do not reflect the standards of transparency, integrity and accountability we all expect from the NPA and each other,” Hardwick said. “NPA supporters and Vancouverites deserve better, which is why the three of us are stepping away from the NPA to sit as a group of independents.”

Added Hardwick: “Instead of a fair and democratic process to select the best mayoral candidate, the NPA board and John Coupar sidelined the elected members of the NPA and made a backroom deal. By any measure, it was about as old-boys-club as it gets.”

In an open letter to NPA members and supporters, the councillors said the NPA organization as it stands today cannot be trusted to govern fairly or responsibly — “and that it does not represent the values and standards that Vancouver residents and NPA supporters expect and deserve.” 

The letter outlines a series of events that unfolded since the current board took control in November 2019, including caucus demands for an open NPA annual general meeting and renewal that have been ignored.

“The NPA Board has gone in the wrong direction and is out of touch with supporters and residents who have been reaching out to express their concerns,” Dominato said. “Women in politics need to stand up for their point of view and lead by example. As a group of independents, we will continue to provide strong leadership at the Council table, focused on bringing the city together rather than divisive politicking.”

Kirby-Yung said the public response to Coupar’s appointment shows the party has lost connection with the people of Vancouver.

“We stand up every day in and out of council chambers to bring Vancouverites voices forward, and wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t stand against this,” she said. “I’m proud to be serving on Vancouver’s first-ever majority women council and I won’t diminish that by not drawing the line. In 2021 we shouldn’t have to fight for a level playing field but we are.”

Added Kirby-Yung: “Moving forward, we’ll be sitting as independents working together and across the aisle to deliver strong and smart leadership to help move Vancouver forward. This story is far from over. We expect to have more to say about the future of our incredible city, people and our neighbourhoods in the months ahead.” 

The trio’s move leaves Melissa De Genova as the lone NPA councillor. The trio’s move comes after Rebecca Bligh, who was elected with the NPA in 2018, left the party in 2019, citing concerns over the board’s move to the far right of the political spectrum.

The NPA announced April 5 that Coupar was the party’s mayoral candidate. No nomination meeting was held. The party has foregone nomination meetings in the past, most recently in 2014 and 2011.

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