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Vancouver's NPA announces who it's running for mayor after previous candidate dropped out


With just over six weeks until voters go to the poll’s Vancouver’s Non-Partisan Association has announced the new candidate who will run for mayor under the party’s banner.

Fred Harding, a businessman and former West Vancouver police officer, announced his candidacy on Granville Street Tuesday morning, flanked by NPA candidates for city council and the park board.

“I’m running to be mayor because I believe we need to restore safety, affordability and stability to our city,” Harding said.

He chose to make the announcement on the sidewalk in front of the Roxy Cabaret in the city’s entertainment district where four people were attacked by a man wielding a machete in early August.

Vancouver police shot a suspect who was taken to hospital with what were described as serious, non-life-threatening injuries.

While describing social issues, random violence and hate crimes in Vancouver, Harding laid the blame squarely at the feet of people elected four years ago but did not refer to any politicians by name or party affiliation.

“Looking at the administration that people have chosen now, four years ago, it’s led us into chaos and it’s led us into disaster. I am a strong alternative for public safety, for revitalizing the city, for revitalizing the downtown.”

Five NPA councillors were elected to city council in 2018, the most of any party, and then-NPA candidate Ken Sim came within a thousand votes of being elected mayor but ultimately lost to Kennedy Stewart who ran as an independent.

In the four years since, Sim left the NPA to form his own party and four of the five NPA councillors elected in 2018 chose to leave the party in the middle of their terms.

Coun. Melissa de Genova is the only member of the NPA elected to council in 2018 who is seeking re-election with the party.

Rebecca Bligh, Sarah Kirby-Yung and Lisa Dominato are all running for council with Sim’s ABC Vancouver Party and Colleen Hardwick is seeking the mayor’s chair with Team for a Livable Vancouver, another new party.

John Coupar, a park board commissioner, was initially acclaimed as the NPA’s mayoral candidate which is why some of the sitting councillors chose to abruptly leave the party.

"Instead of a fair and democratic process to select the best mayoral candidate, the NPA board and John Coupar sidelined the elected members of the NPA and made a backroom deal. By any measure, it was about as old-boys-club as it gets," Dominato, Hardwick and Kirby-Yung wrote in an open letter

Shortly after, three Vancouver School Board trustees also departed the NPA.

Coupar stepped down as the NPA mayoral candidate with a statement posted to Twitter.

"I love this city and have enjoyed serving the residents of Vancouver over the last 11 years. I have always strived to walk with the utmost integrity and with an unwavering commitment to those I serve," Coupar wrote earlier this month. "I am looking forward to spending time with my family and friends."

In 2018, Harding unsuccessfully ran for mayor with Vancouver 1st – and generated controversy with comments he made in the lead-up to that election.

Harding posted a video to YouTube, criticizing the provincial government for the rollout of SOGI123, a resource for educators to address sexual orientations and gender identities.

The video prompted a school board trustee candidate to leave the party and run as independent.

At the time, Harding maintained he supports SOGI and its policies, but said he was against the lack of consultation with parents.

He secured just over 5,600 votes, finishing sixth in the race.

Harding, who speaks Manadarin, spent a significant amount of time over the last four years in Beijing but says he has always maintained his B.C. residency.

“I think most people here know that I was in China and I was based in Beijing. The reason I was in China was because my wife, as many people know, was critically ill,” said Harding, who added that his wife has since recovered.

“It has always been our plan to live here, my property is here … I’ve left all my things here, my car is registered here, always been registered here. I raised my children here and Vancouver is always the place where my wife and I have had a plan to come and live.”

According to Elections BC, candidates for political office must “have been a resident of British Columbia for at least six months immediately before filing nomination documents.”

Because of the ambiguity surrounding Harding’s answer to questions about his residency in the province and his remarks about being based in Beijing, CTV News asked the NPA to clarify if he is legally eligible to run for mayor.

“Yes, Fred meets this the legal requirements of being a B.C. resident and has done so and been a B.C. resident since 1997,” a party staffer said in an email.

At his announcement, Harding made it very clear that public safety will be a critical plank in his platform but when pressed about what he would do differently to improve the situation, he failed to provide any specifics.

“We’ve got smart people in this city that can come up with some great ideas. The council and the leadership of the administration is going to be one component of that. We’re going to bring smart business people…people who already have ideas of what we can do,” he said. Top Stories

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