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

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van burst into flames just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Kids from a MOSS Sailing Camp sail just off Canal Waterfront Park in Alberni Inlet during a day camp in August 2014. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
MOSS Sailing camps return to Alberni Valley

One-week camps designed for kids will take place at Sproat Lake

Robert Gunn of Alberni Climate Action loads garbage discovered in the Alberni Inlet around Cous Creek into his canoe during a recent ocean shoreline cleanup. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Alberni Climate Action group creates NIC scholarship

Students attending college full time may apply through NIC

Two ambulances and a medevac helicopter are on scene at Taylor River Flats rest area on Highway 4 due to a serious motor vehicle incident. (PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE BROWN)
Highway 4 reopens after accident at Taylor River Flats

Multi-vehicle crash had closed highway to west coast

The Rollin Art Centre is holding children’s art camps this summer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Celebrate art in the garden

Rollin Art Centre will host art event on Saturday, June 26

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read