Why ‘Renewal’ for the BCNDP really means nothing: The story behind the BC NDP Convention no one wants to talk about.
“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts. Perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” -John Steinbeck
One call could have been ignored or passed off as sour grapes following the election of Craig Keating as the new BC NDP president, but then another arrived, followed by a few more. Then, documentation.
Every call, and every confirmation all detailing the behind the scenes shenanigans at Convention 2013 that make the complete blindsides on Survivor look amateurish at best.
As someone who has written for years on the non-stop power plays and back room deals perpetrated by the BC Liberals, it has been an incredible source of frustration to see the NDP muddle along, often sit on the fence, or completely ignore certain issues that clearly matter to British Columbians.
For a very long time they have been sitting in perpetual opposition and it is my opinion far too many in the party have become comfortable with the security that provides them on a personal level.
Unfortunately, with that security, comes personal and special interests and the BC NDP have a plethora of both, no different from any other party. An inconvenient truth if ever there was one for a party that claims to be all about the people.
Time for an NDP reality check – one you won’t find among their press releases.
Moving Forward – or Two Steps Back?
Let’s start with Forward BCNDP, a group that claimed to want to renew the direction, and leadership of the BC NDP by involving new voices, new policies and new people.
While the face of Forward BCNDP might have appeared new to the public , the public spokesperson of the group was anything but a new face to the BC NDP, and in fact, is one whose roots go deep in the internal power base of veteran NDP’ers : Sage Aaron.
Sage is the daughter of Sue Hammell, long time MLA of the Surrey Green Timbers riding, elected in 1991, 1996, 2005, 2009, 2013. Sage is married to James Papadopolous and both have participated in past BC NDP campaigns.
Both Sage and James were instrumental in Craig Keatings campaign for president. None of this is news to NDP members or delegates, but it’s likely to be news to the general public.
( nothing strange about being part of campaigns past or present,but it does play into the story in association to Forward BC NDP – a bit more on Aaron from this Van Sun article: ” Aaron said she’s served previously on the NDP’s provincial executive, worked as a digital media strategist during the NDP’s 2009 election campaign, played a key backroom role in newly elected New Democrat Jane Shin’s, Burnaby-Lougheed win in May, and is connected to the Vision Vancouver team of Mayor Gregor Robertson.” )
Leading up to the convention, Forward BCNDP found itself under fire several times in the press : once, for using “BC NDP” without being formally approved by the provincial council( or was it?) – the complaint was dismissed with no reasons why, by party officers on November 7th, even though past infractions had not come without consequences.
No reason why this Forward BCNDP movement was suddenly allowed to use the NDP brand was given by party headquarters…http://www.straight.com/news/530476/guy-gentners-complaint-about-forward-bc-ndp-dismissed-party
The ‘Tynehead Scandal’
The second complaint centered on the age-old political practice of stacking meetings and votes. I will focus on one specific event for this post, but the same issue was raised in a couple of other constituencies that also felt upset at the process of voting delegates. ( note- no official complaints were filed in other CA’s but I have spoken to several people who raised questions about delegate selection in their ridings)
This letter of complaint sent to former president Moe Sihota and Jan O’ Brian, details it all : Sry Tynehead Delegate Selection Mtg Scandal
Again, nothing much happened with this complaint, other than mention of some issues with selecting delegates as reported in this Van Sun article from October : http://www.vancouversun.com/news/faction+leadership+race+tactics+raise+some+party/9060661/story.html
The complaint was dismissed, but it appeared to many who complained that the party had no issue with not checking if members were in good standing, or that they had even been members for 90 days.
Tynehead is a constituency that had a large number of delegate positions to fill, perfect for stacking with Forward BCNDP friendly members from out of the area.
For a group claiming to want to move the party forward, it sure smells like the same old political tactics that have been used for years in order for one faction in a party to get what they want, often without anyone not connected, realizing what happened until it is too late.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
Forward BCNDP managed to secure enough delegate positions at the convention to hold tremendous power … but Jagrup Brar had announced he was running for president of the BC NDP as well. With large popularity, he was a formidable opponent to Craig Keating, who had openly announced his decision to run against Moe Sihota early on.
Jagrup snagged some strong endorsements very quickly, and within a short time rumours were circulating that Brar was in fact “Moe’s boy”, meaning Moe Sihota’s pick of the pack.
In fact, that rumour was circulated, without foundation, on twitter, facebook, and by phone to many NDP members, and continued right through to the convention floor.
The general public only get vague reports of what happens at NDP conventions and likely most don’t really care. However, some of the events I’ve confirmed occurred at this years BC NDP convention read more like a play book from the BC Liberals and need to be shared. And while I can’t share all documentation I have without identifying sources in different areas, rest assured documentation does exist.
Sources indicate that to address the rumours that had been circulated largely about being “Moe’s boy”,Brar asked to speak to the BC NDP party womens caucus, for 60 seconds.
After 15 minutes of heated and loud debate,a motion was put forth (and passed)to refuse him opportunity to speak to the womens caucus, and to remove him from the room.
Craig Keating however, had already been in the room speaking to womens caucus members!
This raised the ire greatly of Jinny Sims, who I am told was incredibly disappointed and upset over this refusal, and said so. What was more disappointing than anything, was that a couple very influential women in the party, sat silent and did not come to Brar’s defense.
Here was a group of women who all felt passionate and strongly about equity, that refused to allow a presidential candidate to speak for just 60 seconds to address the rumours someone had started about the motive for his candidacy and who allegedly was running his show.
Again, for a party that wants to look forward, it seemed a completely backwards move to many.
I spoke with Jagrup Brar this afternoon, but he did not wish to comment on this story, at this point in time. Seems my number wasn’t a popular one today for some in the NDP.
Everything Old is New Again
Stacking meetings, stacking votes, mass sign-ups, political games, massive divisions in the party that is still badly fractured – and some say, irreparably so – don’t indicate to new or old members that the party is moving forward.
In fact, it appears to be anything but. More than ever, it’s the same old NDP masquerading as some new,younger, in-touch, in sync NDP in order to get some new members who were tired of the old NDP. Except all the same names are in all the same places, behind the ones that hold the official titles.
Sadly, this kind of power play doesn’t bode well for the leadership decision to come, and with Dix as the leader of the party for nearly another year, it’s going to be a hard sell until people know who is going to replace him.
They say if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything and the BC NDP might have just proven that right.
And not in a good way.
*** More info to come in a later update as I confirm new information received. Check back at a later time.