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Judge rejects bid to delay the release of BC Liberal leadership results

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The BC Liberals are slated to pick their new leader after a campaign that has focused mainly around renewal and earning back the trust of people in the province. The race hasn't been without controversy though. Richard Zussman has more on the leadership campaign. – Feb 3, 2022

The BC Liberal party can go ahead with the scheduled release of the results of its leadership contest later today after a judge rejected a last-minute bid to delay the process.

Justice Heather MacNaughton has ruled against a petition brought by Vikram Bajwa, who asked the B.C. Supreme Court for an order delaying the release of results over concerns about the party’s recent audit of new members it signed up during the leadership campaign.

Read more: BC Liberal Party warns of text messages sharing false voter registration codes

Bajwa wanted the results delayed for 15 days and for an order that would have required the Liberals to provide details of its audit of thousands of new members signed up during the leadership campaign.

Andrew Nathanson, a lawyer for the party, argued in court Friday that Bajwa had not provided substantial evidence to support his concerns of voter irregularities, and the party’s own evidence showed reasonable steps were taken to ensure voter eligibility.

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Bajwa’s petition also asked the court for an order that would force the party to provide details of its audit of new memberships and to reveal its conclusions on whether any co-ordinated voter fraud took place in the leadership race.

Read more: Voting underway in B.C. Liberal leadership contest as party faces court challenge

Nathanson said the party’s rules give the leadership election organizing committee discretion over whether to release details of the audit.

The party gained more than 20,000 members during the leadership process for a total of about 43,000, who may vote online or by phone for a new leader to replace Andrew Wilkinson after his resignation following the party’s 2020 election defeat.

The seven leadership candidates are legislature members Michael Lee, Ellis Ross and Renee Merrifield; business leaders Gavin Dew, Val Litwin and Stan Sipos; and Kevin Falcon, a former B.C. cabinet minister.

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