North Okanagan-Shuswap NDP riding executive to resign

Unhappy with federal NDP “defunding” association to tune of more than $7,000

Alice Brown

The entire 10-member executive of the North Okanagan Shuswap NDP Riding Association is expected to hand in its collective resignation this weekend.

The en-masse departure, which will happen at a riding meeting Saturday in Armstrong, is to protest the federal NDP’s decision to de-fund the riding association.

At issue, said riding association president Alice Brown of Enderby, and vice-president Kelly Stalker of Falkland, is the transfer of $7,339.09 from the federal NDP to the official agent of the failed 2015 campaign in the riding. The funds in question, in normal circumstances, would be transferred to the riding association to fund the upcoming 2019 election campaign.

“Without those funds, it would be difficult for us to operate,” said Stalker. “We’re very disappointed that the federal NDP chose to divert the funds we need to run our grassroots organization.”

Until a writ is dropped, said Brown, the executive of the riding handles all the financing. They make the budgets, set sometimes lofty goals, rent campaign offices and gather materials.

Once the writ is dropped, total financial control goes over to the candidate and the executive has no say on how any of the money is handled.

“The executive is there for four years or whatever time between elections, and the candidate and campaign team is there for the election time period, maybe five or six weeks,” said Brown.

“We feel if the executive is going to be responsible for the debt, five or six weeks down the road, that they need to be involved in the campaign team. We can’t just be shut out and say ‘we don’t need you for this, we’re handling it our way,’ but five weeks later, step back and say this resulting mess is yours.”

Throughout the 2015 election period, the riding association was aware that the campaign was likely to run a deficit. The riding association contacted the federal NDP with their concerns and were told that the campaign was completely independent. The riding association had no recourse to intervene.

“We find it surprising that on the one hand, we are told that we have no control over how they spend their money and on the other hand, they can take the money from the riding association to cover their debts,” said Brown.

“The Elections Act is very clear that responsibility for paying campaign expenses falls exclusively upon the official agent of the campaign. Failure to pay election expenses can result in jail time or fines.”

Following months of negotiations with the federal NDP, the executive of the North Okanagan Shuswap NDP has lost confidence that the federal NDP is able to operate in a manner that is ethical and transparent, said Brown.

“We’ve just reached an impasse and I don’t know how to make a change without making a noise,” she said. “We don’t want to be caught in this situation again. We feel that either the candidates and official agents sign something, saying they’ll assume responsibility for the debt, or they should keep executive on board so if there is a debt the executive is aware of it.

“I’ve been a party member for more than 30 years, run as a candidate in several elections and have always stood by my principles. I just can’t believe that the federal NDP would rob our riding like this and be so unwilling to correct their mistake.”

The NDP was represented in the riding in 2015 by candidate Jacqui Gingras, who was defeated by Conservative Mel Arnold.

RELATED: Gingras selected as NDP candidate for federal election

Gingras, who had not heard about the mass resignations when contacted by a reporter, expressed disappointment with the executive’s decision to resign, saying the timing could have been better.

“I believe in the power of grassroots organizing and the local riding and the local community,” said Gingras. “It seems to be quite an extreme response. In the next election, we have another really great opportunity with a new, dynamic leader (Jagmeet Singh) and some challenges, to understate it, with respect to Liberal party decisions around Trans Mountain.

“I think this is truly unfortunate. The timing is terrible. Momentum should be about building toward 2019 at this point.”

Jesse Strean Calvert, director of operations for Canada’s NDP, said the federal party works in close coordination with local campaigns both pre- and post-election to ensure they are in compliance with the Elections Act.

“We regret the decision of the outgoing executive, but are certain that NDP members are ready to step up and help run a strong campaign in North Okanagan -Shuswap in 2019,” said Calvert.

Saturday’s meeting is at the Oddfellows Hall in Armstrong. Brown said if no one steps up and assumes the positions being vacated by the resignations, there won’t be a riding executive for now.

The board includes president, vice-president, secretary and seven at-large members.

“There is quite a bit of interest,” she said. “I know two or three people are interested in being candidates; others are interested in maintaining their memberships.”

One person not interested in seeking the leadership is Gingras.

“I won’t be running,” she said. “I support the party, I support grassroots organizing, I would be fully in support of whoever is chosen to run and to be able to support the campaign. I support the leader. But it won’t be me.

”I hope that a new executive works quickly to identify a strong candidate as I know there is much support in our riding. I wish them the very best in that endeavour.”



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna chamber to host proportional representation debate

Proponent and opponent of changing the provincial election system will argue their sides Oct. 17

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Two Okanagan groups receiving grants to aid with overdose crisis

Community innovation grants awarded to address overdose crisis at the local level

UBC Okanagan to host Kelowna mayoral candidate forum

The forum takes place Oct. 15 on campus

Okanagan College looks to reduce natural gas consumption

The college’s natural gas consumption has dropped 51.7 per cent in a decade

Sunny skies for the week ahead

Environment Canada is forecasting clear skies for the Okanagan and Shuswap

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

South Okanagan man alleged to have exposed genitals to children

Penticton RCMP said incident occurred at the Kiwanis Park

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read