Marking 20 years
of bold journalism,
reader supported.
BC Election 2022 Category
Municipal Elections 2022
Municipal Politics

Please Advise! Is Vancouver’s Oldest Municipal Party Imploding?

Coupar’s just the latest to bolt. Why does NPA seem to stand for No People Around?

Steve Burgess 11 Aug

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Read his previous articles.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

Non Partisan Association mayoral candidate John Coupar has dropped out of the race. Why did it happen?


Art Deco

Dear Arty,

Labour shortages are chronic this summer. Airports, hospitals and restaurants are all short-staffed. They even had to close Kits Pool recently for a lack of lifeguards. Now the NPA is short a mayoral candidate. Could it be a case of poaching? Will John Coupar next turn up poolside wearing a Speedo and a whistle, barking at kids to stop hogging the pool noodles?

Perhaps the economic situation is making candidate recruitment tougher for everyone. Could it be that inflation has made people unwilling to take chances? Why take an iffy shot at mayor when a job as a baggage handler is pretty much guaranteed money?

During Coupar's abortive campaign his biggest splash was a claim that a Dollarama at Clark and Hastings was selling machetes. Alas for Coupar, they turned out to be pruning saws. Now Coupar's candidacy has itself been pruned. But why? Coupar's official statement left it unclear whether he jumped or was pushed. Did a shadowy cabal of garden tool moguls give him the chop? Was Coupar a victim of the Big Machete?

In fact Coupar's departure from the mayoral race probably has more to do with the deteriorating state of his chosen party. The NPA is losing candidates at an alarming rate, and not because they are opting for more solid careers at Starbucks or Walmart. This week another NPA nominee, Mauro Francis, defected to the newly formed Progress Vancouver party. Three sitting NPA city council members, three parks board members and four board members quit the party last year. NPA is gradually coming to mean No Personnel Available.

Ironies abound. Public safety being a popular issue for Mayor Kennedy Stewart's opponents in this campaign, it seems many candidates have decided the NPA is no longer a safe space. Not to mention it was Coupar's own candidacy that helped kick-start the process of the NPA shedding like a Bernese mountain dog in August. Councillors Lisa Dominato, Colleen Hardwick and Sarah Kirby-Yung all quit the party last year after the board appointed Coupar as the NPA candidate without consultation. The previous election of Trump fan and Rebel Media correspondent Christopher Wilson to the NPA board did not help matters either.

The ongoing fragmentation of the NPA has resulted in more spinoff projects than the solo Beatles, with Hardwick launching TEAM for a Liveable Vancouver, former NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim starting ABC and Mark Marissen's Progress Vancouver also picking up NPA stragglers. By the time Hardwick and company quit, NPA Coun. Rebecca Bligh had already left the party, concerned over its new direction — a direction resembling the one famously taken by Thelma and Louise. If the NPA had a GPS, it wouldn't say “Recalculating.” It would just scream in terror.

Last year the NPA went to court, suing Mayor Stewart and the City of Vancouver for defamation (the suit was eventually dismissed). Stewart had expressed concerns about “troubling reports of extremism” among members of the NPA’s board.

One of the reports that apparently troubled the mayor was published by The Tyee in January 2021 about then-board member Angelo Isidorou, who’d four years before attended an anti-Trump rally wearing a MAGA cap and flashing a hand gesture that has become identified with white power extremists. Isidorou never would tell The Tyee why he’d done that, but then, as he resigned his NPA post, Isidorou went on CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show to say the gesture was merely copied innocently from pro-Trump rallies. “That’s what we were doing,” he said. “We were being idiots and mimicking Trump.”

He speaks for many.

With the departure of Coupar from the race, six Vancouver mayoral candidates remain. Not terrible odds, but tougher than landing a gig at Tim Hortons. Keep in mind though that opportunities come in many shapes and sizes, some of them breathable and stretchy. Lululemon billionaire Chip Wilson recently donated $380,000 to the Pacific Prosperity Network, an organization dedicated to boosting right-wing candidates across B.C. So even if you don't defeat Mayor Stewart, you could still go away with some lovely parting gifts in a variety of pastel colours. Whether running for office or just to keep fit, you'll love this comfortable footwear from Lululemon — helping you run right!

(Dr. Steve may or may not have received promotional considerations for this article.)  [Tyee]

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

Are You Concerned about AI?

Take this week's poll