Progress Vancouver latest party to emerge on municipal scene

TEAM for Livable Vancouver also new to increasingly crowded race of parties, candidates for 2022 election

The October 2022 civic election is still a year away but another party – Progress Vancouver — emerged Thursday | Dan Toulgoet/files

Although the 2022 civic election is still a year away, new parties and candidates continue to emerge in Vancouver, with the rebranding of a party once led by former city councillor Hector Bremner the latest addition to the municipal scene.

Progress Vancouver is the new name of Yes Vancouver and is expected to be led by Mark Marissen, who previously told Glacier Media that he plans to seek the party’s mayoral nomination when it holds a contest for the job early next year.

“Mark has indicated his interest to us on that,” confirmed Scott de Lange Boom, Progress Vancouver’s president, in an interview Thursday.

Marissen, who could not be reached for comment before this story was posted, kicked off his campaign for a mayoral run in April but had not committed to a party. He was to hold a fundraiser Thursday night at the Fraserview Banquet Hall.

The longtime public affairs and federal Liberal campaign strategist, who was once married to former premier Christy Clark, was an organizer with Yes Vancouver in its campaign in 2018.

The party failed to elect any of its candidates, including Bremner, who finished fifth in a mayoral race won by Kennedy Stewart, the former NDP MP who ran as an independent with support from the Vancouver and District Labour Council.

Many of the people associated to Yes Vancouver three years ago are expected to be in attendance at Marissen’s fundraiser, including de Lange Boom, who had a brief foray with the NPA in 2018, where he planned to seek a council nomination with the party.

A fallout with the NPA involving Bremner led de Lange Boom and others to create Yes Vancouver, which unsuccessfully ran a total of seven candidates in 2018 for council, school board and park board positions.

De Lange Boom, a project manager at a cement company and former officer in the Canadian Forces, said that it was important to launch the rebranding of the party a year out from the 2022 election to gain traction with voters.

Asked where he would place the party on the political spectrum, he said the party has former members of several civic parties, including COPE, Vision Vancouver, the Greens and NPA.

“So in that sense, we are trying to appeal to a very broad tent of people, which some may consider centrist, but we like to think of it as speaking to all Vancouverites, no matter what their political inclinations are,” said de Lange Boom, who added that Bremner has not be involved with the new iteration of the party.

In an email to Glacier Media in September, Marissen addressed what he said was a narrative in some circles that he is representative of the centre-right.

“The fact is, I don't think the traditional left-right spectrum applies in this race, and, even if it did, I am a centre-left Liberal, and will be running a campaign that will include both ‘centre-left’ and ‘centre right’ ideas,” he said.

Progress Vancouver joins TEAM for a Livable Vancouver as one of the new parties to emerge in the past few months. TEAM launched in September and is being led by Coun. Colleen Hardwick, who confirmed in an email that she hopes to seek the party’s mayoral nomination in the new year.

Hardwick resigned from the NPA in May and was sitting as an independent but announced in a news release that she now represents TEAM. The name, or parts of it, may sound familiar to longtime municipal politics enthusiasts — the original TEAM, or The Electors’ Action Movement, was founded in 1968 by Art Phillips and Hardwick’s father, Walter.

Hardwick promised the party will put Vancouverites at the centre in “tackling the key issues of our time,” noting her father’s organization united to defend neighbourhoods from demolition, stopped plans to run freeways through downtown and created the award-winning False Creek South neighbourhood, “an inspiring legacy worth fighting for.”

In recent weeks, the incumbent Stewart and Ken Sim of the A Better City party have held fundraisers. John Coupar, who currently serves as a park board commissioner, is the NPA’s mayoral candidate.

Vision Vancouver has yet to say whether the former dominant party will run a mayoral candidate, while Green Party Coun. Adriane Carr has not ruled out a mayoral run in 2022.

Golok Buday of the Libertarian Party of Canada, who collected 178 votes in the 2018 mayoral race, recently announced he will take another run at city hall’s top job in 2022. This time Buday said he will represent the Vancouver Classic Liberal Association.

mhowell@glaciermedia.ca

@Howellings