Vancouver councillor Rebecca Bligh leaves NPA, says party has gone 'far-right'
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver city councillor Rebecca Bligh has left the Non-Partisan Association and will sit as an independent.
Bligh said her decision to leave the party comes after the civic political party recently elected a new board that she believes shows the party has taken a “far-right” turn.
On Nov. 27, the NPA elected a new board; among those elected was Christopher Wilson, a former Rebel Media personality.
“After the AGM, the overall makeup of the newly elected board, I was shocked at some people who did not get elected or re-elected, and it was quite clear that there had been a mobilized group who had planned and had successfully infiltrated the party,” Bligh said.
“And I think it’s fair to say, from what we’ve seen in the media, far-right representation.”
Bligh said in addition to Wilson’s election, it was also her concern that some of the newly-elected board members are opposed to B.C. public schools’ SOGI policy that ultimately led to her decision to leave.
“For me personally as a queer woman, it felt like I represent the people of Vancouver and that is not the direction that the new board and NPA seem to be going,” Bligh said.
SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity, and it refers to a B.C. public school policy to create a learning environment that is inclusive of LGBTQ+ students, including transgender people.
In a statement, the party's elected caucus (sitting city councillors, park board and school trustees) affirmed their support for Vancouver's LGBTQ+ community and the SOGI policy.
“We fully understand and support our colleague Councillor Rebecca Bligh in her decision to sit as an independent Vancouver city councillor at this time, and we look forward to continuing to work closely together with her to serve all residents of Vancouver," the statement reads.
The NPA board did not immediately respond to a request for comment. After publication of this story, the president of the NPA, David Mawhinney, sent an email stating that the board “supports the LGBTQ2S+ community as we always have.”
“We regret to receive Councillor Bligh’s resignation from the NPA Caucus,” Mawhinney wrote.
“We believe her decision is in light of recent news reports alleging the party’s newly elected executive have been involved in the anti-SOGI movement. These news stories are false. There is no evidence that either our secretary Ray Goldenchild, or our treasurer Phyllis Tang have ever made any anti-SOGI statements.”
Mawhinney said the board is "in full support" of the statement released by the elected caucus.
Bligh said she still had hope that the NPA would “start moving forward in the right direction” before the first board meeting, when, she hoped, “our socially progressive folks on the board would be able to hang on to some of the executive positions.” But, according to Bligh, that didn’t happen.
Bligh said she met personally with all four other NPA city councillors: Colleen Hardwick, Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato and Sarah Kirby Yung.
She’s also spoken about the difficult decision with her 14-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter.
“They’re proud of me, and they get that this is a really difficult decision,” Bligh said, adding she’s thankful for all the support she’s received from the membership of the NPA.