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NDP Report Says Appadurai Should Be Kicked Out of Leadership Race

Party says her campaign broke rules. She says it was 'treated unjustly from the start.'

Andrew MacLeod 19 Oct

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at .

The BC NDP’s provincial executive council is set to decide tonight whether to accept a recommendation to disqualify Anjali Appadurai from the party’s leadership race.

If the council rejects Appadurai’s candidacy, it will leave former attorney general David Eby as the sole candidate to lead the party and become premier.

In a 24-page report leaked to media Tuesday chief electoral officer Elizabeth Cull, a former NDP cabinet minister, wrote that the Appadurai campaign had improperly co-ordinated with third parties to sign up new members.

“Because no other remedy can adequately address the failings and breaches of the Appadurai Campaign in this Leadership election contest, the CEO has reached the difficult conclusion that Ms. Appadurai should be disqualified as a candidate,” Cull wrote.

“The improper co-ordination with third parties... played such a significant tole in the Appadurai Campaign that it is impossible to create a level playing field at this point, and impossible to restore the Leadership Election campaign to a state of integrity in which I could have confidence.”

Cull, who had received formal complaints from Eby’s team about Appadurai’s campaign, was primarily concerned about the role of the environmental organization Dogwood, which attempted to sign up members through paid ads, phone calls and emails to its supporters.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by the recommendation,” Appadurai said in an emailed statement. “Like so many of us, I wanted to take part in a healthy contest of ideas and a renewed conversation about the relationship between the party grassroots and its decision-makers. I believe that British Columbians deserve this conversation, especially in these extraordinary times.”

From the start there has been an “absurd” narrative cultivated that her campaign represents a hostile takeover by outsiders, she said.

“What my campaign has been about from day one is traditional democratic socialist values, galvanized by the urgency and passion of a new generation of NDP movement organizers,” she said.

“The thousands of new members my campaign attracted have been treated with suspicion. The party has called thousands of them and subjected them to loyalty tests. The intent was clearly not just to ascertain the legitimacy of their memberships, but to make a case to disqualify many of them.”

Appadurai said her campaign has followed the rules, acted with integrity and tried to make it a contest of ideas. In recent weeks she had released detailed platforms on health and climate.

Eby, whose candidacy the party approved in mid-summer, has just released a housing platform.

“I believe that my campaign has been treated unjustly from the start,” Appadurai wrote on Twitter. “It’s in all of our interests to allow the members to decide the next leader.”

Author and University of British Columbia professor Naomi Klein, who participated with Appadurai in an event last week, said on Twitter that Appadurai “isn't facing disqualification because of alleged mistakes,” which all campaigns make.

“She is facing disqualification because if she is allowed to run she will win,” Klein wrote.

In an emailed statement BC NDP president Aaron Sumexheltza said he couldn’t comment on the details of a confidential internal document.

“The chief electoral officer’s role is to uphold the rules and ensure a fair race,” he said. “This recommendation will be heard by [the] provincial executive, which makes the final decision on candidate approvals.”

The executive is a “dynamic group of people” elected by NDP members at the party’s last convention and reflects the diversity of people in the province, Sumexheltza said. “I know they want to ensure a fair process and take this responsibility seriously.”

The provincial executive is set to meet starting at 6 p.m. tonight.  [Tyee]

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