3 Vancouver NPA councillors quit party to sit as independents

·2 min read
Councillors Colleen Hardwick, Sarah Kirby-Yung and Lisa Dominato announced Wednesday that they are leaving the NPA to sit as independents.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Councillors Colleen Hardwick, Sarah Kirby-Yung and Lisa Dominato announced Wednesday that they are leaving the NPA to sit as independents. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Vancouver councillors Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick and Sarah Kirby-Yung are leaving the Non-Partisan Association after they say they were "blindsided" by the board's "secret backroom decision" to select a mayoral candidate for the upcoming 2022 civic election.

The NPA's board picked longtime Park Board Commissioner John Coupar as its mayoral candidate, drawing criticism from the three departing councillors.

Dominato, Hardwick and Kirby-Yung, who will sit as independents, issued a news release outlining the reasons behind their departures. Councillor Melissa De Genova is now the sole remaining NPA member on council.

"By any measure, it was about as old-boys-club as it gets," said Hardwick.

By appointing Coupar earlier this month, she said the party operated without a clear democratic process.

"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," said Hardwick.

Party infighting

The councillors issued an open letter that describes the party as untrustworthy to govern fairly and lists a series of events in a timeline going back to November 2019 when the current board took over the NPA.

In December 2019, Councillor Rebecca Bligh announced her resignation from the NPA because of the anti-SOGI ties of some of the elected members of the party's board. SOGI is a provincial policy around sexual orientation and gender identity that promotes LGBTQ inclusivity in schools.

Dominato, Hardwick and Kirby-Yung also say the party did not heed calls for an annual general meeting.

John Coupar, elected park board commissioner in Vancouver was appointed as the NPA's mayoral candidate drawing criticism from elected city councillors with the party.(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)
John Coupar, elected park board commissioner in Vancouver was appointed as the NPA's mayoral candidate drawing criticism from elected city councillors with the party.(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Dominato said the group will continue their work on council rather than focus on party infighting.

"Citizens are looking for a new generation of leadership ... in terms of collaboration, working across party lines, and really working towards solutions for the betterment of the city. That will continue to be my priority and the priority of my colleagues as well."

Kirby-Yung pointed out they will have more to say about the future in the months ahead.

"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. 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," said Kirby-Yung.

"I feel lighter today. I feel like we made the right decision and we're taking the right steps."

The municipal election for Vancouver is set for fall of 2022.

Listen to the segment on CBC's On The Coast: