NDP tight-lipped about membership requirement

The provincial New Democrats have claimed they'll be more open and accountable than the Liberals if they win government. But the party's top staffer cast doubt on those claims during last week's New Democrat membership form controversy. The controversy was triggered when MLA Mable Elmore, as well as individuals who were alleged to be supporters of leadership candidate Adrian Dix, dropped off a group of forms at the party's provincial office on January 17.

That was just before the deadline to submit those applications and for their signatories to eligible to participate in the coming leadership vote.

But some of those forms didn't have a membership payment attached, as required. Instead, leadership candidate Harry Lali alleged packages of money were brought in separately.

Complaints were filed by Mr. Lali and competitor Mike Farnworth's campaign manager Richard Tones. But, during an interview last Tuesday evening, the party's provincial secretary Jan O'Brien repeatedly refused to disclose whether such a requirement actually existed.

The interview began with what should have been a simple question: "What are the requirements in terms of having money affixed to forms?"

Ms. O'Brien's response, however, wasn't so simple.

"Each individual has to pay for their own membership forms and that's what we're concerned about. And the forms have a number of spaces on them that have to be filled in by the individual that signs," she said.

So we tried again: "And the money has to be affixed to the form?"

"There's different ways that it comes in to us. It comes in through batches and through credit cards and online. So it depends on how we receive the forms."

Uh-huh. "But if it's a cheque or cash, the money has to be affixed to the form?"

"We do batch our forms so that they come in groups as well," she said, continuing to dodge and weave.

So, after two additional tries at being polite, we bluntly told Ms. O'Brien it would "make it a Hell of a lot easier" if she would just say "yes or no" to whether such a requirement exists.

The inscrutable reply: "Sometimes questions can't be answered with a yes or no. You have to look at all the factors that are around them and we will be doing that. W'ere very diligent about ensuring our individual forms are scrutinized and processed in accordance with our standards."

But sometimes questions can be answered with yes or no if you obtain a confidential email from Ms. O'Brien that was sent on January 13 in which she advised the leadership campaigns that, "Each individual applicant's fee must be attached to their membership form."

Nevertheless, last Wednesday, Ms. O'Brien decided that requirement "created an unnecessary step and extra work for some campaigns" and was "contrary to the BC NDP's standard way of handling the receipt of more than 10 membership forms at a time."

Indeed, in a later interviews with the media, she described it as more of a "guideline" - one that wasn't sent to constituency associations.

So the provincial secretary decided to continue processing the contest forms, noting there is also a "provision" for doing so even after the deadline to submit them has passed.

Which, perhaps, explains why Ms. O'Brien refused - seven times - to confirm the existence of the requirement to have membership fees attached to individual forms.

8 Comments

Sir Humphrey would have been proud: "If I am pressed for a straight answer I shall say that, as far as we can see, looking at it by and large, taking one thing with another, in terms of the average, then in the last analysis it is probably true to say that, at the end of the day, you would find, in general terms that, not to put too fine a point on it, there really wasn't very much in it one way or the other. As far as one can see. At this stage."

Thank you, Sean. The BCNDP just can't be trusted with anything. Apparently ChristyClarkFan was right about the sleaze in the BCNDP. Honest people answer yes or no.

Now w/ Adrian Dix getting Joy MacPhail to endorse him and the BCNDP party president unable to adequately defend the mess Dix has created, I fully expect Mr. Dix to become as irrelevant as... Dana Larsen!

Given Dix's recent poll numbers, it looks like the damage has been done. Regardless of whether or not the party defends it.

They can justify it in their own minds several ways. There is a theory that no one should be required to pay any money to join a political party anyway -- it's an affront to democracy (of course, if that's the case, then the other campaigns should have been able to sign up members for free too). They can also admit that the party needs the money, and they may honestly believe that the party will ultimately do what's in the best interest of British Columbians, even if they have to break some rules to get into power. (Of course, once a group gets used to breaking rules, they tend to continue to be broken, even when one has in theory reached the goal it was aiming for).

In the end, people will make their own judgments. And the BS-meter of the electorate is a lot higher than many in the legislature give it credit for being.

I'm not surprised at the BCNDP waffling. In the past few weeks, BCNDP supporters have smeared you Sean. Also the BCNDP realize they are just too incompetent for government, period.

Quite frankly: Do NOT expect this overblown spin over the Children's Advocate report to justify a change from the party of liberty to the party of socialism... or such a change to solve the problems @ hand.

What are you talking about? "In the past few weeks, BCNDP supporters have smeared you Sean." When? I must have missed it. Just like most of the inferences you make this one requires explanation Josef K.

Then you drag in the reference to the Child Advocate Report. Not related to the item here but could you elaborate how many deaths there were of children under the care of the Ministry in the 90's and how many have there been in the New Era of Prosperity under the Liberals. Please, we'd really like to know.

One wonders if Josef K actually read the article? Is he talking about Mary Ellen's report on kids dying ?


If the executive found anything wrong with the memberships , they would inform the members and the members would no doubt let others know.

Hal... as to what I'm talking about I've posted links to tweets attacking @PublicEyeOnline.

I don't have the stats in front of me at this hour, but to prevent future infanticide a few basic changes are needed. Like a crib donation network. Like an officer in the Premier's Office to strategize fight child poverty across ministries. This smear, this spin BCLibs don't care for kids is just shameful of the BCNDP that peddle it. Let's remember the BCNDP can't run their own party by and far... where is their strategy to fix child poverty?

Yes and yes, Avoter. Enuf said.

Now you are back peddling Josef K. You don't have the stats because they don't support your contention. Why not make sure you have the evidence before making half-baked comments.

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