Squabble over money leads to exodus of NDP executive in North Okanagan Shuswap

The NDP is facing a crisis of sorts in the North Okanagan Shuswap after the 10-member executive for the federal riding resigned en masse this past weekend.

The future of the NDP in the North Okanagan Shuswap is questionable, at least for the short term, after the riding’s 10-member executive resigned en masse this past weekend.

On Monday, outgoing North Okanagan Shuswap NDP president Alice Brown issued a press release stating that “the entire executive of the North Okanagan Shuswap NDP resigned following a dispute with the head office of the NDP.” Brown said accountability over a financial transfer, among other things, led to Saturday’s mass exodus.

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The amount, $7,339.09, goes back to the 2015 federal election and what turned out to be the NDP’s failed bid to win the riding. Mel Arnold of the Conservative Party won the riding with 39 per cent of the vote (27,490 votes). The NDP nominee, Jacqui Gingras, was third at 26 per cent (17,903 votes). The Liberal nominee, Cindy Derkaz, placed second at 30 per cent (20,951).

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According to Brown, the $7,339.09 should have been transferred to the local association to help fund the next election. Instead, the press release said “the funds were transferred from the federal NDP to the official agent of the 2015 campaign to cover election expenses incurred by the candidate and official agent. For over three years, the (North Okanagan Shuswap) association has sought accountability on how those funds were spent.”

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The press release said that an election was called for a new executive on Saturday. However, a motion from the floor called for a deferral of the election so that the membership of the association would stand in solidarity with the outgoing executive. The motion carried and the meeting was adjourned without electing a new executive.

“I have worked with many of the folks on the executive over the last several decades and wanted to stand in solidarity with them,” said Nick Hodge, a former association president who tabled the motion. “It’s clear to me that the membership in our community deserves answers from the federal office.”

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“At the end of the day, it’s distressing that the federal NDP made a backroom deal that enriches these individuals at the expense of our local riding association,” said Zev Tiefenbach, outgoing financial agent of the riding association. “Without transparency from the leadership, it’s difficult to keep the faith in this political party.”

“It’s terribly sad for me to end my career with the NDP like this,” Brown also said in the press release. “But I can’t continue to support a party that has so little regard for its grassroots. Sometimes, you have to make some noise so that a problem gets noticed.”

Brown, who has served as a candidate in three federal elections, said the NDP should be getting ready to challenge the Conservative MP in next year’s federal election. Instead, with no executive in place of today, it’s fair question to ask if the NDP will be able to get the riding’s house in order, let alone find a candidate in time.

Contacted Monday, Brown said while financial accountability was part of why the executive resigned, another was “the executive should be part of the campaign team if it’s going to be responsible for the fall out.”

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