FILE — Longtime NDP supporter Alice Brown puts her arm around NDP candidate Sylvia Lindgren following the news that Liberal MLA Greg Kyllo would be retaining his seat in the legislature. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

NDP executive steps down in North Okanagan Shuswap

in-house ‘spending scandal’ blamed for Saturday’s resignation decision

The future of the NDP in the North Okanagan Shuswap is unclear.

Despite an election in just over a year, the entire executive riding association resigned Saturday over a dispute with the federal NDP head office.

At issue is the transfer of $7,339.09 from the Federal NDP to the Official Agent of the failed 2015 campaign in the riding. The funds in question, in normal circumstances, would be transferred to the Riding Association to help fund the upcoming 2019 election campaign.

See related: North Okanagan-Shuswap riding executive to resign

The meeting agenda called for the election of a new executive. 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. It’s clear to me that the membership in our community deserves answers from the federal office,” said Nick Hodge, former President of the Association who tabled the motion.

Alice Brown, the outgoing president who has served as a candidate in three federal elections, expressed her profound disappointment with the NDP.

“It’s terribly sad for me to end my career with the NDP like this, 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.”

The funds in question 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 Association had sought accountability on how those funds were spent.

“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,” observes 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.”

Adds Brown: “So when we all stepped down there wasn’t a large group of people waiting in the wings to take it on.”

The NDP head office has been alerted to the resignation but has not responded.

“Whether they didn’t believe us, or didn’t care we don’t know,” said Brown, who has been involved with the party for more than 30 years.

What she would like to see is transparency.

“We figure we should know how that money was spent,” said Brown of the $7,000. “People who are making donations, they want to know how their money is spent.”

She points out that the campaign was $17,000 in debt, all of which was accounted for and paid back, except for the above amount.

“So we feel that we need to have some change there. It’s making a change for future campaigns.”

The issue was raised previously with head office, but Brown says the executive never felt heard, therefore a more drastic measure had to be taken, and it’s unfortunate given the timing.

“Truly we should be gearing up for the next election…instead, wow we have nothing here.”


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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