NPA names Fred Harding as its new Vancouver mayoral candidate

·2 min read
NPA mayoral candidate Fred Harding speaks to the media at the announcement of his candidacy on Aug. 30, 2022.  (Justin McElroy/CBC  - image credit)
NPA mayoral candidate Fred Harding speaks to the media at the announcement of his candidacy on Aug. 30, 2022. (Justin McElroy/CBC - image credit)

Vancouver's Non-Partisan Association has announced a new mayoral candidate — but one that voters have seen before.

Fred Harding, who ran for mayor with the Vancouver 1st Party in 2018, was announced as the NPA's candidate Tuesday morning, four weeks after its previous candidate, John Coupar, dropped out.

Harding finished in sixth place with just over three per cent of the vote in his 2018 bid. But he believed voters would give him a second look running with a more established party and would be more inclined to change the political balance at city hall after the last four years.

"Four years ago, the city wasn't ready for me. Now I'm ready. We're ready as a team. We're ready to fight and we're ready to serve," said Harding.

Harding joins Coun. Colleen Hardwick, entrepreneur and 2018 mayoral runner-up Ken Sim and political strategist Mark Marissen as candidates with political parties looking to replace Kennedy Stewart, who is seeking re-election.

The deadline to register as a candidate is Sept. 9, with general voting day on Oct. 15.

'I'm the leader now'

A former West Vancouver police officer who has spent much of the last four years in China, Harding emphasized the theme of safety several times in his speech announcing his candidacy, mentioning several recent issues along the Downtown Eastside and the Granville Strip, where his event happened.

"I'm looking forward to restoring safety. I'm looking forward to bringing leadership back to the city," he said. "We need to bring the police back into the equation."

Harding did not have specifics on what the NPA would do to reduce crime if elected but said he would bring people together and "make this an environment where people feel safe," with a more detailed platform to come in the following weeks.

He also said the NPA would focus on increasing the supply of housing to try to fix the affordability crisis.

The NPA elected five councillors in the 2018 election but has seen all but three of its elected officials leave the party in recent years due to several controversies originating with its board of directors.

Harding said "the NPA is not imploding," and the party would have stable leadership for the rest of the election.

"Whatever's been going on in the NPA in the past, those are old issues," he said.

"I'm the leader now. Everybody's going to have a voice, and we're going to work with consensus."