Peter Wall was ecstatic at the Nonpartisan Association’s 2022 municipal election campaign launch in May, the only supporter in a crowd of hundreds to take the microphone.
Just as NPA mayoral candidate John Coupar was preparing to introduce the party’s slate for Vancouver council and parks board that evening at the Italian Cultural Center, Wall’s voice rose in the audience.
“Who has a microphone?” Coupar asked from the stage, in which he may or may not have been a bit prepared. “Pedro? Do you have something to say, Peter?
Wall, one of Vancouver’s most prominent developers and philanthropists for decades, yelled from the audience, “Go get ’em, John! Go find them!”
The crowd erupted in applause, and Coupar responded, “Thank you, Peter, and I know you have the best interests of our city.”
But on Friday, just over two months after the campaign launched and less than two months before Election Day, Coupar was suddenly no longer the NPA mayoral candidate, and Wall was far more serious about the chances. of the party to regain the mayoralty in October.
Wall, a thoroughbred racing enthusiast and former co-owner of Hastings Racecourse, took a bet Friday that the NPA’s change of horses at this point in the race kills his chance to run for mayor in October.
“I would take all the bets anyone wants to take. I would take all the money I have and bet against it,” Wall said. “There is no chance that they will get a candidate who can win.”
The party leadership, as expected, put a different spin on the latest development. In a press release announcing Coupar’s resignation, 15 months after the board anointed him to lead the party in the 2022 election, the NPA said they “will announce our candidate for mayor at a future date to build on the strengths of the party.” combined from our pool of candidates. .”
For most of the past century, the NPA has been Vancouver’s most successful party, a political home for centrist and right-wing voters, and much of the city’s business establishment. But despite the party’s historic dominance, Coupar’s surprise resignation is another in a series of bumps in the road for the NPA in recent years, and Wall is the latest longtime supporter to criticize his board of directors.
Wall said he only knew a few board members personally, “but their actions were so egregiously stupid, basically John had to resign, because they were working against him.”
Wall thinks Coupar would have made a great mayor, he said, and might have had a good chance of winning.
“He wants to be mayor,” Wall said. “I suggested to him that he should run as an independent.”
Weeks after the May campaign launch at the Italian Cultural Center, the NPA opened its campaign offices in the iconic downtown skyscraper complex that bears the tycoon’s last name, the Wall Centre.
On Thursday afternoon, Coupar’s massive visage and purple NPA logos and slogans draped the entire exterior of the Wall Center’s ground-floor offices at the corner of Helmcken and Hornby streets. On Friday morning, shortly after the announcement of Coupar’s resignation, men in suits were outside the Wall Center ripping purple NPA signs from the windows.
In the 2018 Vancouver election, NPA mayoral candidate Ken Sim narrowly lost to incumbent Mayor Kennedy Stewart, and the NPA saw five elected councilors in 2018, more than any other party.
But Sim and four of those five former NPA councilors have since quit the party to run against it in this year’s election, all publicly citing the same reason: various concerns about the board, after party members elected to several new directors in 2019. .
Sim is now running for mayor with upstart ABC Vancouver, along with former NPA Couns. Rebecca Bligh, Lisa Dominato and Sarah Kirby-Yung, while former NPA Counselor. Colleen Hardwick is the mayoral candidate for another new party, TEAM.
Coupar did not return calls Friday or respond to questions sent about Wall’s comments on his resignation and the NPA board. But in a statement released online, Coupar expressed gratitude to the NPA for the opportunity to run alongside “wonderful” candidates, adding: “I love this city and have enjoyed serving Vancouverites for the past 11 years. I have always striven to walk with the utmost integrity and with an unwavering commitment to those I serve.”
Elizabeth Ball, a three-term former NPA city councilwoman who joined the board late last year and is now vice president, said Friday she was surprised by Coupar’s resignation the night before.
“This is John’s choice. It wouldn’t be our choice, but we really support him in whatever he chooses to do, because he’s a great guy,” said Ball, who served in the NPA caucus with Coupar for years.
When asked about Wall’s criticism, Ball said: “I know they’re not an incompetent board, I can tell you that. … Throughout the board, I never heard anything but positive things about John.”
Ball said he still feels good about the party’s prospects, and the well-known figure in Vancouver’s performing arts community chose a theatrical metaphor.
“You’re in the middle of a rehearsal and one of your lead actors leaves or gets another job or something, you have to respond to that,” Ball said. “We have to respond to that by moving forward and looking for another candidate.”
“But the show must go on.”