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News

BC Greens Red Light Two Prominent Would-be Candidates

Leader Andrew Weaver says candidate rejections are part of ‘maturing’ process.

By Andrew MacLeod 29 Sep 2016 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2015). Find him on Twitter.

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BC Green leader Andrew Weaver said candidate rejections show ‘the maturing of a party, one that takes itself very seriously as a serious competitor in the upcoming election.’

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he can’t discuss why his party quashed the bids of two well-established members to become candidates in the May 2017 provincial election.

The party recently rejected both Andy Shadrack in Nelson-Creston and George Orr in North Vancouver-Lonsdale as candidates.

“We obviously won’t comment on a confidential process,” said Weaver. “I was surprised in some cases, but I totally support the process and I support those who’ve put a lot of time into going through and determining it, but I will not discuss the details.”

Weaver said the party’s vetting committee makes recommendations to him and campaign director Taylor Hartrick on whether to accept people’s candidacies. “I could suddenly I guess start beating my chest and ranting on and on, but that frankly isn’t the BC Green way,” Weaver said. “The BC Green way is to seek consensus, understand arguments and support people who are bringing those arguments forward.”

Shadrack, who lives in Kaslo, said that he’s “speechless” at having his candidacy rejected. He said he had signed a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of the vetting process and couldn’t share specifics about the process or the reason the party offered for blocking him from running.

Instead Shadrack talked about his record, which includes three terms as a director for the regional district and a recent award from the Kootenay Conservation Program for 28 years of service on environmental issues. He said he has run five times previously for the Greens in provincial or federal elections.

“I’ll let members of the party and the public who’ve known me draw their own conclusions,” he said. “I’m a very popular politician in this region... I think I’m loved by a lot of people in the Kootenays.”

In an email that Shadrack sent to various supporters, he said he had signed up almost 200 members to support his nomination bid.

He said he appealed the party’s decision, but the party denied the appeal.

Shadrack said he accepted the rules, including the confidentiality agreement, when he entered the nomination process, “believing incorrectly that it would be fair and honest.”

Two other candidates, Ramona Faust and Kim Charlesworth, received the party’s approval to seek the nomination in the constituency.

In the other case, George Orr provided more detail in an email shared with The Tyee on why he believes the party rejected his candidacy even though he’d already campaigned for nine months for the Greens.

Orr taught journalism for 20 years at the B.C. Institute of Technology and worked as a reporter at CKNW and other broadcasters before that.

“I am insulted because this is a slap at the reputation I have worked all my career to build here on the West Coast,” he said. “I have said, written, and done NOTHING to give offence to the party I’ve embraced.”

The decision-makers were concerned that he had written that the Greens were “political virgins” and that opponents “might find out and smear me with this revelation,” he said.

“So I am quietly ‘rejected’ and made to look like something dark is being covered over here; that I have failed as a decent person,” he said. “I cannot see why I get dumped for something so seemingly tiny. So I want my reputation back.”

He encouraged supporters to write to Stefan Jonsson, the party’s director of communications, and Hartrick.

In an interview, Orr said Hartrick interviewed him as part of the vetting process and focused on the “political virgins” blog. There were also questions about Orr’s experience in the 1960s counterculture, which he freely admitted “fully participating” in, Orr said.

“I’m as good a candidate as they’re going to get,” added Orr.

“I was rejected and I’m insulted by it, to be honest,” he said. “I’m more pissed off than I’m going to express to you.”

Joseph Planta interviewed Orr for a podcast available on The Commentary website.

Weaver said the candidate vetting process is comparable to those in place at other parties and more prospective candidates may be rejected.

“I think what you’re seeing is the maturing of a party, one that takes itself very seriously as a serious competitor in the upcoming election,” he said.

The party’s rules indicate the campaign director appoints the vetting committee and is ultimately responsible for making the decision on accepting candidates, in consultation with the leader.

The party wouldn’t reveal who is on the committee. “The vetting committee is made up of highly qualified BC Green Party members to ensure a fair review for all applicants,” said Jonsson. “However I can’t publicize the names of the individual members for privacy reasons.”

The rules say the vetting committee must assess whether it’s in the party’s best interest to have a person as a nomination contestant and that it may consider various background materials, including the person’s criminal record check, past public statements and financial affairs.

“There’s a reason you have a vetting process,” Weaver said. “There’s a vetting process in order to ensure the candidates come through the process and understand the values of the party etcetera, but we’re not going to discuss the details of why any individual candidate starts through it or ends coming out either red or green light.”  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, BC Politics

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