British Columbia

Vancouver's NPA party names John Coupar as mayoral candidate for 2022 municipal election

Vancouver's oldest political party, the Non-Partisan Association, has selected its mayoral candidate 18 months ahead of the municipal election.

3 councillors say they were 'taken aback' by surprise nomination of long-time park board commissioner

John Coupar, park board commissioner and the NPA's mayoral candidate for the 2022 municipal election, is pictured in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on Dec. 13, 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The next municipal election in Vancouver takes place on Oct. 15, 2022, but the city's oldest political party is getting a head start on the campaign by naming its mayoral candidate. 

John Coupar, a Vancouver Park Board commissioner, has been chosen by appointment by the board of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA).

"It was known to the board that I was interested. I ran last time as well. So I look forward to this opportunity," Coupar told host Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition

In a statement, NPA president David Mawhinney said Coupar, who has served on the park board for 10 years, exemplified the "best of Vancouver." 

"John has been a leader on the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, which is often where the most consequential debates about the future of our city take place. John has handled these debates deftly and brilliantly," said Mawhinney.

The NPA board has appointed candidates in the past like Suzanne Anton and Kirk LaPointe, but it has also held open elections among members for its candidates, such as Sam Sullivan, Peter Ladner and Ken Sim.

Not everyone was happy with the board's appointment process. 

Coun. Colleen Hardwick, one of four NPA councillors in council, had been considering a run for mayor.

"I am disappointed that the NPA will not be conducting an open and transparent nomination process," Hardwick told CBC News.

Late Tuesday evening, Hardwick and fellow NPA councillors Sarah Kirby-Yung and Lisa Dominato released a statement saying they were "taken aback" by the appointment, which they say they learned of just before it was announced to the media. They said the board's decision has eliminated the possibility of a woman leading the party.

"The people of Vancouver are looking for transparent, strong leadership they can trust. The actions of the board executive fall short of this standard," the statement says.

Coupar, though, says he has broad support across the city.

"What's probably important to the party, is that last time around, last election, I received more votes than either [2018 NPA mayoral candidate] Ken Sim or [current mayor and Independent] Kennedy Stewart even running for the park board position," he said. 

Coupar received 49,768 votes, compared to Stewart's 49,705 and Sim's 48,748. The Green Party's Janet Fraser, who ran to be a school board trustee, garnered the most votes out of any candidate in the 2018 Vancouver municipal election with 75,100.

Vancouver has had 11 NPA mayors, the last of which was Sam Sullivan, who served between 2005 and 2008. 

Listen to John Coupar's interview with CBC's Stephen Quinn here:

With files from On The Coast, Justin McElroy and Bethany Lindsay