Coupling and uncoupling

The British Columbia Democratic Coalition, an alliance between four minor provincial parties, has fractured less than a month after leader Tom Morino announced its creation. During an executive meeting on Sunday, Democratic Coalition president Bill Savage, the leader of the Citizens Action Coalition resigned, taking his party with him. And so did Democratic Coalition vice-president Harvey Maser, the leader of Link British Columbia.

In interview, Mr. Savage's replacement Matthew Laird said his predecessor's resignation had something to do with "personal issues." He then mentioned Messrs. Savage and Maser resigned because of concerns about the coalition's "policy direction." Mr. Laird agreed when Public Eye helpfully suggested the resignations might have something to do with a personal issue regarding the party's policy direction.

Mr. Savage was more forthcoming. The Citizens Action leader says he stepped down because there was an unwillingness "to follow the chain of command...there were decisions being made that were not going to the (executive) board. And I will not stand for and will not tolerate decisions being made outside the board. It's not a one man show."

Mr. Savage declined to elaborate but added there was also, "a bit of distrust. Tommy's an ex-Liberal. And I don't know whether its true or not whether (former provincial Liberal leader) Gordon Wilson is lurking in the background somewhere with Matthew Laird. But we don't want a Gordon Wilson around, quite frankly - just as much as I don't want a Bill Vander Zalm around."

Mr. Morino unsuccessfully ran for the Liberals in 1991. But when Gordon Campbell became party leader, he joined Mr. Wilson's Progressive Democratic Alliance. Mr. Laird, the co-founder of Recall B.C., was also an alliance member.

Messrs. Savage and Maser have now decided to merge their parties under the Link British Columbia brand name, with Bill becoming president and Harvey its leader. Meanwhile, over at Democratic Coalition headquarters, the oh-so secretive Mr. Laird says his party is about to do some merging of its own. The coalition is in negotiations to ally with the British Columbia Labour Party and the All Nations Party of British Columbia, an aboriginal political group. It's also signed an agreement-in-principle to amalgamate with the British Columbia Reform Party. And hey, if those parties leave the coalition, there're always 37 others just waiting for a chance to join.

Footnote: Mr. Laird says Link British Columbia hasn't left the Democratic Coalition, adding that the party's president - whose name he couldn't remember - is still supportive. But Mr. Savage says Link has left the coalition. And its president, whose name Mr. Savage did remember, is now first vice-president of the merged Link-Citizens Action Coalition party. Mr. Savage also gave a detailed account of a meeting between himself and Gordon Nelson to discuss that appointment. Public Eye was unable to reach Mr. Nelson at publication time.

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