Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Vancouver’s centre-right political party has chosen its candidate for mayor for the next municipal election, but the election is more than a year away and the candidate was appointed without a membership vote.

The highly unusual move by the once-dominant Non-Partisan Association means Vancouver Park Board commissioner John Coupar will represent the party in the October, 2022, vote. Mr. Coupar, who ran for the party’s nomination in 2018 but lost to Ken Sim, was appointed after he was offered the position by the board last week. Current elected NPA councillors weren’t aware of it until after the decision.

Most NPA councillors declined to comment Monday, but a councillor who left the party to sit as an independent, Rebecca Bligh, called the move problematic.

Story continues below advertisement

“It is more troubling action out of the NPA. It looks like a complete disregard and ignoring the NPA caucus.”

It’s unclear when the decision to appoint Mr. Coupar was made. Mr. Coupar said he was asked last week if he would accept the nomination.

The NPA caucus had asked the NPA board in January to hold a long-delayed annual general meeting to elect new board members, after a series of media reports about the activities of some NPA directors – from deriding the need to wear masks during the pandemic and making derogatory comments about homeless people in Yaletown to making white-power hand signals at a pro-Trump rally.

That meeting has not happened yet, so Mr. Coupar’s nomination was made by the existing group.

NPA president David Mawhinney, in a statement, called Mr. Coupar an example of the “best of Vancouver” and a person who has handled difficult debates at the Park Board “deftly and brilliantly.” But his candidacy has already set off a small bomb of debate over both the process used and what he will stand for.

Mr. Sim, who has said for months that he plans to run as an independent candidate and has raised more than $500,000 for that effort, said the process looked like the worst kind of backroom deal.

Mr. Coupar, a 64-year-old retired president of a carbon-neutral delivery company, said he looks forward to being the kind of mayor who listens to people and makes sure that the city is well run.

Story continues below advertisement

He has become best known in this term for his strong criticism of how the Park Board and city handled the homeless camp in Oppenheimer and Strathcona parks, along with his opposition to converting one lane of the two-lane road in Stanley Park for bike use only.

Mr. Coupar became a public figure more than a decade ago when he led the drive to prevent the new Vision Vancouver council from closing down the Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park as part of a budget-cutting sweep. He has been elected three times to the Park Board.

Mr. Coupar said that he can bring a new look to the beleaguered NPA, especially the board about which he has had concerns. “I think I can bring a moderate group together.”

But critics say Mr. Coupar represents an entrenched right-wing approach that is out of touch with the current city.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart said Mr. Coupar is more akin to Andrew Scheer or Stephen Harper than to former NPA mayor Philip Owen, whom Mr. Coupar compared himself to.

“And I don’t think that’s what the city needs.”

Story continues below advertisement

OneCity Councillor Christine Boyle said, besides the problems with the bad process for selecting Mr. Coupar, it was a small slap in the face for the experienced female councillors from the party. Sarah Kirby-Yung and Colleen Hardwick were assumed by many to be preparing for a run for the mayoral nomination.

“I don’t see eye to eye with them, but I’m surprised the board wouldn’t be giving any of them a chance,” said Ms. Boyle.

We have a weekly Western Canada newsletter written by our B.C. and Alberta bureau chiefs, providing a comprehensive package of the news you need to know about the region and its place in the issues facing Canada. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies