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

Liberal membership swells amid irregularities

Web Lead

  • Feb. 9, 2011 10:00 a.m.

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

RDCK calls for reversal of Sinixt extinction

The board opposed a land transfer to the Westbank First Nation this week

Creston police kept busy with unwanted guest complaints

Creston RCMP responded to 59 calls for assistance

Forecasters promote avalanche safety awareness

Avalanche Canada advising backcountry enthusiasts to get proper training and equipment.

Rural residents could face higher fire protection costs

Erickson and Arrow Creek property owners will pay more for fire protection

Brewery workers claim more job losses

Interior Brewery Workers Local 308 says that Labatt Breweries of Canada is manipulating data to justify the loss of jobs at Creston’s 50-year-old brewery.

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Drones take off to search for missing North Okanagan women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

Most Read