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

Grow ops left in legal weeds

“I think people are going to get a big surprise that it’s not going to change things much.”

RCMP honour Vernon Search and Rescue

Certificate of Appreciation awarded following summer work in locating body of missing Vernon man

Vernon peer support group praised

Canadian Mental Health Association praises work of volunteers in group

Fulton pins Panthers 7-0

Interior Junior Varsity Football League play

Sweet meets seductive for Vernon’s final Rocky Horror Show

Big Apple Productions’ The Rocky Horror Show is at O’Keefe Ranch Oct. 18-27

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Vernon RCMP requests help to find missing Vernon man

Gerald Dakota Garton was last seen on Thursday, Oct. 11.

Jets score 3 late goals to beat Canucks 4-1

Winnipeg ends three-game Vancouver win streak

Okanagan water conference builds connections

Experts gathered to discuss water and fisherie sustainability objectives

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

Most Read