Former Attorney General David Eby will be British Columbia’s next premier.
The BC NDP executive council disqualified Anjali Appadurai on Wednesday night from running in the upcoming leadership race.
After a nearly four hour meeting, the executive reached the decision.
The party’s chief electoral officer, Elizabeth Cull, recommended the party executive disqualify Appadura following an extensive investigation into complaints brought forward around the sale of new party memberships.
“The BC NDP Executive has voted to support the Chief Electoral Officer’s recommendation to disqualify Anjali Appadurai as a candidate as a sanction for violating the rules,” BC NDP President said Aaron Sumexheltza.
“This has been a challenging period for members of the party, and I thank Elizabeth Cull, the party’s table officers and the Executive for their dedication to their roles. I know they did not make this decision lightly.”
The party says now that there is only one approved candidate in the leadership race, the CEO is considering moving up the election date and will have more to say on Thursday.
After being named leader, Eby will officially be sworn in as B.C.’s premier and replace John Horgan.
He will be declared the next premier on Friday, Oct. 21, and then sworn in at a later date.
The BC NDP executive did debate a motion to allow Appadurai to defend herself at the meeting on Wednesday night, but after 40 minutes of debate the motion was dismissed.
In June, Horgan announced his plans to step down largely due to the impacts of his throat cancer treatments.
“David has the support of the majority of our caucus, just like I do today, and I think that is the beginning of a positive new government going forward,” Horgan said.
The leadership race has been marred by allegations of wrongdoing and has left the party in an awkward situation.
Eby will take over with significant caucus support, with almost every NDP MLA supporting him. Appadurai does not have the support of any caucus members.
It is unclear whether Appadurai will appeal the decision, but she said if the grassroots of the party wanted her to appeal, she would.
“They had a process that they totally lost control of, which never looks good,” UBC political scientist Gerald Baier said.
The Appadurai campaign has been accused of offering to pay for memberships for new members, using Dogwood BC’s list to recruit members and encouraging BC Greens to leave their party to temporarily join the BC NDP to vote for Appadurai.
“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,” reads the internal report written by Cull and obtained by Global News.
“In their opinion, the improper coordination with third parties (primarily Dogwood) 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 details in the report Dogwood used paid ads, paid phone backing and emails to communicate with supporters in an attempt to sign up members.
The report states Appadurai told supporters on Aug. 6 that organizations like Dogwood would help her sign up thousands of members.
Cull considered disallowing all new members who joined after Aug. 6, 2022 from voting but determined that would also disqualify thousands of people who signed up in good faith.
“This potential remedy does nothing to address the CEO’s serious concerns about Ms. Appadurai’s failures to take any responsibility for the violations committed in relation to her campaign, and her distressingly lackadaisical attitude to her obligations as a leadership candidates,” Cull writes.
In the report, Cull details that 17.7 per cent of the more than 2,000 new members contacted are “ineligible” because they are supporters or members of other parties.
Appadurai has said publicly she signed up between 8,000 to 14,000 members. The party has not released any official figures.
“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,” Appadurai said.
“I believe that British Columbians deserve this conversation, especially in these extraordinary times.”
Up until now, Eby has released just one major policy piece, promising a substantial overhaul to housing measures in B.C. Eby says if he becomes premier, he would impose a “flipping tax” on the sale of residential properties.
The tax would be highest for those who hold properties for the shortest period of time, and would phase out after two years and go down to zero the longer the property is held. The tax would include exemptions for life circumstances such as, death, employment loss, divorce or disability. Builders would also be exempted in a bid to encourage housing construction.
It is unclear when he will provide additional details about what he plans to do as premier.
BC Liberal MLA Elenore Sturko called the decision disheartening while describing the disqualification as terminating the candidacy of the only real challenger to the heir-apparent, David Eby.
“The NDP’s entire 57-seat Caucus sat back and allowed those voices to be shut out of the democratic process and a young woman to be disqualified from running against Eby by a party that picks and chooses when it applies an equity mandate to candidacies.” Sturko said.
BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau described this as a sad day for democracy. Furstenau said Appadurai spoke honestly about the overlapping health care, climate, and affordability crises that British Columbians are facing and this government’s failure to make progress on them.
“It’s no surprise that so many people were inspired by her message. To those who joined Anjali’s campaign with so much hope: please don’t give up on politics. The stakes are too high. It’s important that your voice is heard and we are listening,” Furstenau said.