B.C. Liberal leadership contenders Kevin Falcon and George Abbott.

B.C. Liberal leadership contenders Kevin Falcon and George Abbott.

Liberal membership swells amid irregularities

Party says close to 50,000 new members signed up

B.C. Liberal party officials say nearly 50,000 new members were signed up by the Feb. 4 deadline for eligibility to help pick the province’s next premier.

“This dramatic increase in new members has pushed our membership mark so it’s now approaching 90,000,” party president Mickey Patryluk said Tuesday.

“It’s a clear signal of the enthusiasm that has been ignited by this leadership race.”

Exactly how many new members were signed up by each campaign remains unclear.

Kevin Falcon’s backers say they’ve signed up 17,500 and the Mike de Jong campaign is claiming more than 10,000. Christy Clark is expected to have the most new members, with reported estimates ranging from 20,000 to 26,000.

However those numbers don’t square with any significant number of new members from the George Abbott campaign, or from Moira Stilwell and Ed Mayne.

Nor has an official detailed breakdown been released of where the members have been recruited.

Many are believed to have signed up in Surrey, where three campaigns were concentrating heavily on the South Asian community.

Still up in the air are the rules that will govern the Feb. 26 vote to select a new Liberal leader and premier.

Party delegates vote this Saturday on a recommended plan to give equal weight to each district across the province, rather than the one-member-one-vote system.

That would greatly water down the influence of thousands of members signed up in a handful of urban ridings, prompting speculation some forces in the party may seek to defeat the proposed voting reform, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

Party officials are also purging the membership list of new members signed up in contravention to the rules.

Random audits of new members are underway to try to eliminate memberships issued without the person’s knowledge.

Under particular scrutiny are cases where multiple memberships came from the same address, particularly a business, or bearing the same phone number.

“Our party executive and staff take the integrity of our leadership vote process extremely seriously,” Patryluk said. “We are committed to a fair and equitable process for all leadership contenders.”

Among those memberships being deleted are those of several Kamloops Blazers hockey players who were signed up without their knowledge by a supporter of Kevin Falcon’s.

Falcon’s campaign manager said he notified party headquarters as soon as he learned of the invalid memberships.

Tom Gaglardi, majority owner of the Western Hockey League club, is a supporter of Falcon’s leadership bid, and the Blazers’ general manager took responsibility for what he called a “communication error” leading to the inappropriate sign-up.

That came after the Falcon team accused Clark forces of using large numbers of photocopied membership forms missing the required serial numbers, contrary to party rules that said only official membership books were to be used.

Clark’s representatives dismissed the claim.

Before that, it was the case of a cat belonging to the Delta South riding association president, a senior Clark organizer, ending up on the membership list.

George Abbott then had to order a supporter to take down a satirical website called kitties4christy.com that attempted to exploit the cat incident.

Questions lingered when it was pointed out the web site domain name was registered three days before news of the cat sign-up broke. The Abbott campaign denied any involvement in the sign-up of Olympia the cat.

Clark issued a statement saying she is “disappointed to hear George Abbott admit his campaign was involved in negative campaigning” and called on candidates to focus on respectful policy discussions.

The Feb. 26 vote is a preferential ballot, meaning there will be considerable jockeying by the camps in the time remaining to convince members to list them if not first as their second or even third choices. 

Just Posted

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in Saanich parkland

The birds don’t often touch down in the south of the Island

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

Barriers to rental housing brought on by no-pet rules add stress to renters, says councillor. (Pixabay)
Saanich councillor wants to remove barriers to housing for pet owners

Motion calling for province to amend lease stipulations against pet ownership defeated in 5-4 vote

A sketch of the multi-use path that will connect Lagoon Beach and Royal Beach in Colwood. (Sketch courtesy of the City of Colwood)
Concepts for Colwood beach connector coming to council June 21

Major infrastructure project includes gathering places, public amenities and pathways

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Most Read