The exodus of elected Non-Partisan Association caucus members in Vancouver continued Friday, with the civic slate’s three school board trustees announcing they would quit the party.
In a statement, school trustees Carmen Cho, Fraser Ballentyne and Oliver Hanson said they would sit out the rest of their term as independents “following months of controversy surrounding the NPA board.”
The exit comes just days after three of the four elected NPA councillors on Vancouver city council quit the party to sit as independents.
The councillors said they were leaving due to a “backroom deal” to appoint Park Commissioner John Coupar as the party’s mayoral candidate in the 2022 civic election.
At the time, both Coupar and the NPA fired back, noting that the trio of councillors had also been appointed to run for the party.
“Because I had previously gone through the process and had been vetted now by three different boards, including being greenlit as a candidate for mayor last time, they did move a little bit quicker, but that’s really the only difference,” Coupar told Global News.
While NPA candidates have been appointed in previous years, it was through an open process that allowed would-be candidates to submit applications, sign up members and fundraise.
Friday’s announcement leaves the city’s oldest political party with a caucus of three: park commissioners John Coupar and Tricia Barker, and councillor Melissa De Genova.
The NPA has faced significant controversy over the last two years, following the election of a board that has been criticized as too “far right” in its political leanings.
Following the creation of the new board in November 2019, former NPA Coun. Rebecca Bligh publicly split with the party over concerns about the board’s position on LGBTQ2 issues.
Last summer, a number of board members also quit and elected councillors have been calling for an annual general meeting since January.
Global News has requested comment from NPA president David Mawhinney.