VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Several months after former Premier Christy Clark announced she was stepping down, today is the day for members of the BC Liberals to vote in a new boss.
We are about to learn who will lead the party as a new leader is chosen to guide them into the next election.
University of Victoria Political Scientist Michael Prince says his money is on former Liberal cabinet member Todd Stone. “He’s kind of an interesting hybrid candidate. He’s an insider but I think deep down he’s more, what I would call, a federal Liberal as opposed to simply a BC Liberal.”
Earlier this week, four rival candidates openly accused Stone’s campaign of collecting invalid or rejected memberships, something they claim threatens the integrity of the vote. On Friday, Stone’s campaign admitted it disqualified more than 1,300 memberships after party auditors raised some concerns about email addresses created by an outside data firm.
Campaign co-chair Peter Fassbender confirmed data analytics firm AggregateIQ created email portals for 1,349 new, primarily non-English speaking members, to create email addresses, a move he admits could compromise the registration process.
“The issue here was something that the party clearly said to us was not done with any malicious intent or an effort to usurp the process. They realized what they had done was not in compliance and it was stopped immediately,” explained Fassbender.
He wouldn’t say whether the campaign is still working with AggregateIQ.
The party uses a preferential balloting system which means if nobody crosses the 50 per cent threshold on the first ballot, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their votes are reassigned.
“I sense that they really thought perhaps the defeat last year wasn’t a real defeat and that they’ll be back in power in a matter of a year or so. I think, to me, that’s a bit short-sighted,” adds Prince.
Former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was considered the front-runner early on in the race but Prince feels she failed to impress people during the debates.
The field of candidates includes some long-serving party members including former Finance Minister Mike de Jong, former Minister of Advanced Education Andrew Wilkinson, former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan and a couple of outsiders in Michael Lee and Watts.
Members have been able to vote since Thursday. Prince doesn’t expect a winner to be declared until the 4th ballot.