David Eby became British Columbia’s premier-in-waiting on Wednesday when executives of the NDP disqualified his sole party leadership rival, Anjali Appadurai, on the strength of a report into her campaign by the party’s chief electoral officer, Elizabeth Cull.
What did Cull claim in her report and how did Appadurai respond?
On Aug. 6, Appadurai held a Zoom meeting with about 100 supporters, including members and representatives of environmental group Dogwood BC, who promised to sign up thousands of new party members to vote for Appadurai. Cull called the meeting “a direct rebuttal” to claims by the campaign that it was independent from Dogwood. Appadurai said the meeting was to test whether there was enough support for a leadership run.
Cull: “While there is nothing improper about a campaign co-ordinating with individuals to sign up new members, it is not proper for a campaign to co-ordinate with third parties (i.e. organizations) and use third-party resources to sign up new members of the public on behalf of the campaign.”
Appadurai: “The CEO equates me being ‘aware’ of the efforts of these groups as equivalent to collusion. It is categorically not the same thing. And there could be no co-ordination before or on the Zoom call Aug. 6, because before that point there had been no public or private announcement of my campaign.”
Cull found that Dogwood volunteers and staff told people they could join the NDP to vote for Appadurai whileretaining their membership in the Green Party or temporarily “pausing” membership.
Cull: “(I am) deeply concerned by Ms. Appadurai’s apparent hesitation with respect to denouncing Dogwood’s solicitation of fraudulent memberships as well as temporary Green Party membership suspensions for the sole purpose of voting.”
Appadurai: “It’s not a violation of the law or party rules — when someone joins our party from a rival party, hoping that under new leadership the party will embrace a more ambitious direction.”
Cull spent a significant portion of her report questioning the credibility of the Appadurai campaign. Appadurai in turn criticized Cull’s report as predetermined.
Cull: “(The) information they received from the Appadurai campaign, including through its formal responses and Ms. Appadurai’s and her campaign’s statements to them as well as to the public, were frequently inconsistent if not directly contradictory.”
Appadurai: “What you’re reading and hearing today from the (chief electoral officer) is not the conclusion of an investigation, but an investigation to support a predetermined conclusion.”
—The Canadian Press