John Horgan defends BC NDP’s Appadurai disqualification

David Eby is set to be declared as the NDP party leader on Friday. This comes after the party disqualified Anjali Appadurai, meaning Eby will become B.C.'s next premier. Kier Junos reports on what British Columbians can expect.

B.C. Premier John Horgan isn’t mincing words when it comes to defending the disqualification of Anjali Appadurai from the BC NDP leadership contest.

Speaking with reporters Thursday, Horgan says the executive that voted to disqualify Appadurai is made up of “contemporary British Columbians making decisions in the best interest of the province.”

“I’m proud of the work they did and I’m proud that David Eby will be the next premier of British Columbia,” he said.

Eby is set to be declared leader of the BC NDP on Friday. He will go on to become premier without having to go through a leadership race.

When asked whether British Columbians should be comfortable with Eby taking on the role without having to campaign to the people, Horgan doubled down on his support for the long-time New Democrat.

“David has been one of the hardest working members of my cabinets. He was, when I was leader of the opposition, the hardest-working critic on behalf of the official opposition. Every file that I have given him — large files, sometimes multiple files — have been handled delicately and handled with success,” the current premier said, going on to highlight some of the work Eby has done.

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Horgan is stepping aside due to health reasons. He announced his decision in June of this year, making way for the leadership race.

On Wednesday, the BC NDP executive voted in favour of recommendations from Chief Electoral Officer Elizabeth Cull to drop Appadurai from the race, leaving just David Eby in the running.

The recommendations were outlined in a report obtained by several media outlets, including CityNews, earlier this week.

In it, Cull noted that Appadurai had been under investigation for multiple breaches of the party’s rules, with accusations of encouraging BC Green members to leave their party and temporarily join the New Democrats to vote for her. Claims suggested Appadurai’s camp even offered to pay for new members’ memberships and that she used Dogwood BC’s list to recruit members.

Appadurai, whose leadership platform puts a major focus on climate and environment, has insisted her campaign is not guilty of any wrongdoing.

Many of her supporters have taken issue with the executive and who makes it up, claiming that it does not represent the diversity of British Columbia and that that factored into the leadership process.

Horgan refutes any such claims.

“As I understand it, the point you’re making … is here’s a young activist who wants to make an impact — full marks to her for that, she can continue to do that work that she was doing prior to her and the Dogwood Initiative starting her campaign,” Horgan said in response to a reporter question Thursday. “She can continue to do that work — her enthusiasm, her vigour is welcomed within the NDP, but you have to follow the rules in a leadership contest, you have to understand that we amended election finance rules, we amended how we engage, not just in regular elections … but also in leadership campaigns.

“We have a young, dynamic, diverse caucus and she would be, I would suggest, a welcome addition to that. But at this point, we have 57 members who range in age to mid-30s to early-70s, and that range of experience — more women than men, more people of colour than have ever been elected to this legislature, we are increasingly representing the diversity of British Columbia, and our executive represents that diversity,” Horgan continued.

Questions around who makes up the BC NDP executive have been raised throughout the leadership process, which has been criticized in and of itself.

When asked why their names aren’t listed publicly, Horgan bristled at the suggestion the disqualification process wasn’t transparent enough.

“Why? Because they’re being inundated by people … by Green Party members saying ‘we want to take over your party.’ Leave them alone, they’re doing their job — volunteers — and they’re going to be abused by a bunch of people who cheated and want to get away with it?” he said.

“I believe these individuals, young men and women, diverse men and women from across B.C., elected at our last convention to these positions, should not then be ridiculed and abused by people who only joined the party because they got an email from someone that doesn’t even belong to the NDP. I just can’t be more frustrated by that type of thuggery. So, no, I’m not going to publish their names but I’m sure some would be delighted to have them,” Horgan continued.

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