Former NDP MLA Guy Gentner calls own party "unethical"

As the B.C. NDP reviews its election loss, Guy Gentner asserts that the party’s problems go right to the top.

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Life outside the B.C. NDP caucus is quite liberating for Guy Gentner.

      “I’m no longer MLA, and I can say things maybe I couldn’t or was reluctant to speak about before,” the former Delta North representative told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      “Things” like the party has become “unethical”.

      Gentner didn’t run for a third term this year despite polling numbers indicating that the B.C. NDP would likely win the May 14 election. As it turned out, the B.C. NDP blew its lead and lost the election.

      As the NDP undertakes a review of the debacle, he wants the party “to take a very close look at itself”. “The problem is the party itself,” Gentner said. “There’s something wrong at the core.”

      Putting it more bluntly, the ex-MLA declared: “The party lacks integrity.”

      During the election campaign, the B.C. NDP chose not to hammer the B.C. Liberal party for its record and may have lost because of that decision. Gentner suggested that there’s a reason the NDP didn’t go into attack mode. “The whole issue of ethics during this election campaign was muted because the NDP itself has problems in that department,” he said.

      B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix didn’t make himself available for comment. Instead, his office asked MLA Mable Elmore to respond to the statements made by Gentner.

      “He’s off base,” Elmore said in dismissing her former caucus colleague’s opinion during a phone interview with the Straight. She added that it’s “pretty shocking” for him to be making such criticisms.

      However, the MLA for Vancouver-Kensington acknowledged that there is a great deal of disappointment and anger about the election loss and suggested that Gentner is reflecting those sentiments.

      “He’s certainly free and also welcome to bring his views forward and submit them to the review,” Elmore said.

      According to Gentner, the party’s problem with ethics goes right to the top. “The issue of the election was based on ethics and was based on the fact that we have a leader that had one faux pas,” he said, referring to Dix’s 1999 memo-backdating controversy during his time as chief of staff to then-premier Glen Clark.

      “Meanwhile,” Gentner continued, “the Liberals were riddled with scandal and we didn’t take the opportunity to remind the populace about their 12-year record. And the reason being is we were worried about, you know, the tension it would create on reminding the voters about Mr. Dix’s problems in the ’90s. So we tried to avoid it.”

      But it wasn’t only the 1990s, according to Gentner. He also went back to the party’s 2011 leadership contest, in which contenders Harry Lali and Mike Farnworth questioned Dix’s mass recruitment
      of supporters.

      “I would suggest to you on record that it was the Dix leadership campaign that benefited [from] these bulk sign-ups,” Gentner said. “I call it the SkyTrain connection: it was from Surrey all the way into town. And the problem with that…is that you have this massive sign-up that drove the leadership campaign, but they were out of tune with the rest of British Columbia. And it showed on election day.”

      Gentner related that in Delta North, 960 people supposedly joined the NDP for the leadership vote. But, he said, many of them were not even aware of it. Worse, 320 of them were also members of the B.C. Liberal party. Gentner also claimed that he found out about one person who held the personal identification numbers of 85 people, allowing that individual to vote that many times.

      As far as Gentner is concerned, the leadership campaign was “totally tainted”.

      “I ought to tell you that’s one of the main reasons I didn’t run in this election,” he said. “Because when I went door-to-door and saw what was going on during the leadership campaign, I decided that this was an unethical party. It wasn’t the party I belonged to.”

      Gentner supported Farnworth for leader, while Elmore backed Dix. Elmore said she’s surprised that Gentner is raising matters related to the 2011 leadership race. She noted that all the contestants recruited a good number of people, and there was a “recognized process in terms of members signing up”.

      “People wanted to participate, to get involved in the process, to have a voice and play a role,” Elmore said.

      Gentner next spoke about the party’s provincial executive. Citing in particular B.C. NDP president Moe Sihota, the former MLA said the entire executive should step aside in order to allow critical thinking inside the NDP.

      Gentner claimed that a group identified with Sihota controls the party executive.

      “They made the decisions, and this is the result of it,” he maintained. “The NDP can only work with critical thinking within itself, and without it, it became lax and overlooked a lot of systemic problems. I’m hopeful that will change in November, when the [party] convention comes.”

      According to Gentner, the NDP needs to be transparent, open to debate, and connected back to the grassroots membership.

      “And it’s not going to do it if the same group of people who’ve been there for years and years and years—the apparatchiks—continue to run that show,” he said.

      The B.C. NDP headquarters didn’t make a spokesperson available to comment on the ex-MLA’s claims before deadline.

      Gentner asserted that unless the party cleans itself up, “it is going to run in the same dirt the Liberals are running in today.”

      Saying that he remains a committed New Democrat, he posed this challenge to the faithful: “Let’s get some integrity going in the party.”




      Jul 11, 2013 at 6:17am

      I don't agree with calling the party "unethical". I would have use terms like "strategically stunted at the top". One thing that the party needs to look at soon is the entire issue of eligibility to vote in leadership conventions. 90 days prior is in my opinion an invitation for a watering down and even a hijacking of the party and its direction. How many of these "temporary supporters" actually remain with the party after the leadership race? Meanwhile with an influx of new supporters, its the new ones who are listened to while the base who've been members longer, have their voices diluted. I think being a member 1 year prior to a leadership convention is a good start with eligibility.

      You could allow a period of time for lapsed members to re engage, but in terms of new signups being eligible... that wouldn't be allowed. That way the focus would be on those who are active and engaged, over friends and family and those looking to come by, back their horse then leave back into the abyss.

      The theme of the 2013 convention should be something like "Boots to Asses". "Real Positive Change (at the Top)" "Thanks for the memories... time for you to go." All directed at the 4 architects of this garbage central campaign. Until the top positions show accountability by resigning, the BCNDP will not be going anywhere, and the recent by election campaign is evidence of that.

      john christens

      Jul 11, 2013 at 6:25am

      Guy has often spoken about how the indos have ruined our party and i agree with him. The problem is that he supported Farnworth who has plenty of scandals of his own from the 90's. I can see the ad now. Farnworth testifying in court after signing the casino licence for Glen Clarks friend.


      Jul 11, 2013 at 6:49am

      didn't guy gentner exercise a lack of integrity when he pushed carole james out? and he supported a candidate who made his share of mistakes in the 90s.

      j s sidhu

      Jul 11, 2013 at 9:13am

      Well! I am waiting for a better comeback from ndp!

      Arthur Vandelay

      Jul 11, 2013 at 9:54am

      My kudos to the GS for even covering this story. A story which just states plainly obvious facts. If you are going to be the party of the morality, don't start your campaign by electing the most immoral leader you can muster up in a very immoral process and then position your campaign as not talking about the past because you are too moral for that kind of campaign.

      I don't know how many people were buying any of that garbage, but May 14 proved that it wasn't nearly enough.

      Evil Eye

      Jul 11, 2013 at 9:58am

      The NDP is a party of "hacks" and lack relevance today. That Dix did not immediately step down after his massive loss (yes massive) shows that he also out of tune/out of step.

      Carole James was another failed leader who refused to go and had to be pushed. In fact both Dix and James should step down pronto because every time I hear either of them on the radio, it just reminds me why I don't vote NDP.

      Gentner is telling like it is and like what has been posted before the NDP is nothing more than Error 404 - not found.

      The NDP is a yesterday's political party, fighting yesterday' political battles, with yesterdays political hacks. today, the NDP are an embarrassment and continue to embarrass themselves with their inept performance.

      RIchard Hughes

      Jul 11, 2013 at 10:13am

      Good to see Guy Gentner speaking out.

      We must wash the NDP laundry in public to break out of the top down special interest controlled dog's breakfast that remains.

      The so called review, finally announced, is an insult and it is designed to protect the insiders who drove the party into the mud.

      It is time that our elected MLA's stood up and spoke out as well.

      Bring the decision making and political activism back to the communities. The top down centralized control freak style has brought us to where we are now. Nowhere!


      Jul 11, 2013 at 10:33am

      I believe the party can be saved, But the top has to go Sihota, O'Brien and Dix. Dix should keep hie seat in the leg because he was vote in. But the rest shouldn't let the door hit them in the ass on their way out. When the dust settles then do a complete rebuild and then lean to the center,and govern for every one. I would think it will take a long time, but it can be done.


      Jul 11, 2013 at 10:51am

      Wow. This is from a MLA who, along with farnworth, has been involved in taking out now 2 leaders. Total hypocrisy. What kind of ethics does that display? And farnworth is just as dirty as dix, check his records in the 90s. The NDP needs a total overhaul to be relevant.


      Jul 11, 2013 at 10:54am

      Aren't a majority of Guy's constituents Indo-Canadian? How did he represent anyone in Delta?!

      If this racism is what will be associated with Mike's looming leadership run, y'all can have the party. I don't want any part of it.