Delta elections ‘already started’: Mayor responds to council’s shocking move

Without a public explanation of the reasons behind this week’s “palace coup” at Delta City Hall, this suggests the move is motivated not by political disagreement but by political ambitions, said political scientist Hamish Telford.

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Delta Mayor George Harvie says political maneuvering, not genuine concerns about his performance, motivated his council’s surprising decision this week to strip him of some of his powers.

Some local observers who are not Harvie supporters, including his mayoral predecessor, agree with that assessment.

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“It is definitely evident that the 2026 civic election has already begun in Delta,” Harvie said Wednesday, two days after Delta councilors removed him as the city’s representative in Metro Vancouver and limited the powers of his office.

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Harvie’s removal from the Metro board has implications beyond Delta, as it means a change in leadership for the regional body, which Harvie has chaired since 2022.

“In my opinion and that of others, the action they initiated to remove the mayor of Delta from the position of president of the Metropolitan Vancouver Regional District was solely to try to reduce my profile for the next two remaining years of this term,” he wrote Harvie. in an email. “It certainly wasn’t for failure to represent Delta’s interests in Metro or for failure to fulfill my duties as mayor of Delta.”

Harvie said he enjoys strong public support in Delta and was “not aware” there would be a motion at Monday’s meeting to remove him as Metro director.

Jerry Dobrovolny (left) and Delta Mayor George Harvie (right). Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The council’s action against Harvie, made through a series of surprise motions introduced without warning at a council meeting Monday night, seems “pretty unprecedented,” said Lois Jackson, who served on the Delta council for almost 50 years until 2022, including 19 years as mayor.

As mayor, Jackson worked for decades with Harvie, who was Delta city manager from 2002 to 2018. In 2018, Jackson ran for council on a ticket alongside Harvie who ran for mayor, so he could, he said, help to the city’s former top bureaucrat “transition to the position of mayor.”

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Jackson was disappointed by Harvie’s performance as mayor over the past six years, but was also unimpressed this week by council members’ actions against him without publicly explaining their actions.

“It’s a sad situation,” Jackson said. “If none of these councilors can stand up and say, ‘That’s why I put forward a motion to discipline George or remove him from Metro,’ there’s something wrong with that.”

Delta’s entire current seven-member council ran and won with Harvie on the Achieving For Delta ticket in the 2022 election. Since then, they have not disagreed on major issues, at least not publicly, and mostly voted together as a bloc, Jackson said, which makes him think this move “smacks of politics.”

When Jackson ran for council in 2018 with Harvie as a mayoral candidate, another member of his Achieving For Delta slate was council candidate Dylan Kruger, who won a spot, becoming the youngest elected councilman in Delta history .

Kruger, now in his second term, was one of four councilors who signed a statement issued after Monday’s council meeting, expressing their “loss of confidence” in Harvie’s ability to represent Delta’s interests at the regional level. The other three councilors are in their first term on the council. So far, none of the four have been willing to answer questions about what motivated this action.

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Jackson said he believes Kruger ran for council in 2018 with hopes of running for mayor in 2022. But in 2022, Harvie decided to seek a second term as mayor and won easily. Kruger ran for and won a second term on the council.

“There is now talk of (Harvie) running again” for a third term, Jackson said. “So Kruger took the rest of the council and said, ‘Come with me, now we’re going to replace George Harvie.'”

“Dylan wants his day.”

The absence of any public explanation from councilors about why they acted against the mayor on Monday “suggests it’s someone’s ambitions,” said Hamish Telford, an associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford.

“Because they are not signaling a policy. It’s not, ‘He was advocating for this policy on the Mayor’s Council, and that’s detrimental to our interests in Delta,’ or ‘We want that policy,’” Telford said. “Obviously, it’s more like, ‘Well, actually, I want to run for mayor next time.’”

“This is kind of a palace coup and the reasons are still not clear, at least to me, as to why they are doing this,” Telford said. “I think there will be another shoe that drops. And obviously it’s not clear when that will happen.”

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So far this term, there has been very little in terms of “healthy debate” among council members at public meetings, said Sylvia Bishop, who served on the Delta council for seven years and ran for mayor against Harvie in 2018. But Monday’s surprise motions suggest that behind the scenes, there must have been tensions around procedures and operations, he said. “Something must have broken the camel’s back.”

Now, Bishop says, he hopes the rest of the council feels “stronger and more confident to debate at the table.”

As an organizer for the community group Friends Of Ladner Village, Bev Yaworski follows Delta politics closely. She and her neighbors were “shocked” by this week’s events, she said. “People call it a coup.”

Bev Yarwoski, Friends of Ladner Village organizer in action in Ladner on May 8, 2024. Photo by NICK PROCAYLO /10104679A

“It just raised a lot of questions about what’s really going on at City Hall,” Yaworski said.

Yaworski did not endorse Harvie or anyone on his Achieving For Delta list, but said, “Even if you don’t agree with the mayor’s politics, he has given a lot to the city and deserves some dignity and respect.

“Our residents deserve better. “I don’t know which side to be on.”

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“The division is going to divide the community,” he said. “We deserve answers.”

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