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NDP rejects sign-up complaints

NDP MLA Harry Lali - Black Press
NDP MLA Harry Lali
— image credit: Black Press

VICTORIA – The B.C. NDP executive has rejected two complaints from rival candidates about irregularities in the sign-up of members to support Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix in his bid for the party leadership.

NDP provincial secretary Jan O'Brien issued a statement late Wednesday saying the party will "process" all the party memberships and donations received in person at the provincial office in Burnaby by the 5 p.m. deadline on Monday.

Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali says he wrote to the party demanding a review after seeing Dix's campaign workers bring in membership forms and party donations to meet the party's deadline of Monday at 5 p.m. He said he will consider legal action if his complaint is not upheld.

Lali said rules were distributed to all leadership candidates, specifying that each new membership form have the member's donation attached, to help ensure that people have paid their own membership fees.

"People coming in with memberships, stacks of them, thousands of memberships, and other people coming in with the money, in bags and envelopes, little handbags," Lali told reporters at the legislature Wednesday.

Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth's campaign also lodged a complaint about membership sales, but going into a party caucus meeting, Farnworth had little to say about the situation.

"My campaign did file an objection and so the rules committee will be dealing with that," Farnworth said.

O'Brien said the rules did specify that membership fees must be attached to each application. But in the ruling released to candidates, she stated "the central point of the 5 p.m. deadline on Jan. 17 is to ensure that the membership forms are at the provincial office by that time. There is a recognition that it may not be possible to complete the processing in one day and there is provision for continuing the processing of the forms in the following days."

Lali said the questionable memberships were brought in by members of the South Asian and Filipino communities in Vancouver. He denounced the "abuse and manipulation" of Indo-Canadian members, and compared it to questionable sign-ups for the NDP's leadership campaign 11 years ago.

Dix said he was aware that many of the new members signed up by his campaign had made their donations in cash.

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