The Non Partisan Association’s (NPA) was rocked with controversy when it rejected high-profile mayoral candidate Hector Bremner. The party’s decision, say some of its observers, shows the lack of transparency, and is “stuck in an old ‘backroom’ boys mentality” as well as an anti-immigrant bias.
Bremner, who is very much visible with his Let’s Fix Housing initiative and is the party’s frontrunner, said he was approved by the party’s Green Light Committee but unexpectedly blocked from running for mayor under its banner by the party board. His supporters suggested the racial identity of his supporters may have hurt his bid. NPA president Gregory Baker told media earlier this week that the Green Light Committee had “serious concerns” with Bremner and so the board decided not to approve his application.
“We had statements made to us when we started signing up more people,” said Bremner, referring to a membership drive that he said added more than 2,000 party members.
“When you sign up 100 white people at a church, that doesn’t seem questionable, but when you have 100 non-Anglicized names, that is questionable,” said Bremner, whose wife is Filipina and who signed up many immigrants to the party and their cause.
While he said the comments against immigrants were not openly made, it was covert in many ways, such as the time they talked about foreign buyers. “It’s all in code but we all know what they mean,” he said, adding he was “astonished” by what he heard.
Bremner said he would welcome the reasons for rejection being made public because he has nothing to hide. “Put out whatever you want, I have no secrets,” he said. “I don’t want to hear about these sort of vague insinuations … some vague, super-secret concerns.”
He said politics “shouldn’t be done by some backroom decision. The candidates should be voted on by the members and by the public. The star chamber, big-donor era is over.”
The NPA’s rejection of Bremner as its mayoral candidate this week appears to have hurt the party and may have opened the door to more threats to his unity. His rejection by the party’s board became all the more intriguing because he was heading polls with his involvement in many issues that matter to vancouverites.
Only three names made it past the NPA board: party member and Park Board Commissioner John Coupar, political newcomer Ken Sim, and Glen Chernen, who ran for mayor with the Cedar Party in a previous election.
Bremner has claimed to have signed up more than 2,000 members. Chernen, who ran for the mayor’s office with the Cedar Party in the last election, also claims to have signed up a large number of supporters, but did not have an exact number.
Mario Canseco, who is with Research Co., said his numbers suggested Bremner had more name recognition than Coupar, Chernen or Sim, and that it was strange how a party can reject a candidate who has already made a name for himself and made his party recognizable.
Adrian Crook was among those who were seeking an NPA nomination for a council seat, but has said that because of the board’s “decidedly undemocratic rejection” of Bremner’s candidacy, he said he would no longer seek the party’s nomination for councillor. He said he was still very much interested in running for a council seat, but said he was not yet ready to say whether that would be as an independent or otherwise.
The NPA’s green light committee consists of Joe Sebestyen, David Mawhinney, Eli Konorti, Paul Barbeau, and Gill Winckler, with Ray Young as an alternate. Its directors of the board are Robert Boyd, Johnny Cheung, Erin Chutter, Lou Cruz, Federico Fuocco, Michael Lount, Wes Mussio, Franco Peta, Krissy Van Loon, Sarah Weddell, Natasha Westover and Terry Yung, according to their website.