B.C. NDP president Craig Keating denies favouritism in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant race

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      B.C. NDP president Craig Keating is defending his party against criticisms of unfairness in the selection of a candidate in Vancouver–Mount Pleasant. He disagrees that the nomination is being rushed to favour a preferred individual.

      “In terms of the process, I’ve had precisely the opposite complaint from members of the party who have approached me saying that we should have had the rules in place much earlier and, in fact, we were too slow,” Keating told the Straight in a phone interview.

      On April 22, the party opened the nominations to choose a candidate for a by-election that will follow after incumbent MLA Jenny Kwan steps down. Kwan will represent the federal NDP in Vancouver East in this year’s national election.

      Three days later (April 25), Melanie Mark launched her campaign for a nomination. Vancouver-area NDP MLAs Mable Elmore and David Eby are the early supporters of Mark, a former president of the Urban Native Youth Association.

      The B.C. NDP headquarters has given prospective applicants until May 1 to hand in their papers.

      Keating confirmed that the nomination will be held sometime in June. Because of the party’s rule that only those who are members for at least 90 days before the selection can cast votes, no new membership sign-ups are going to happen.

      Keating, a City of North Vancouver councillor, noted that new party members were recruited during the federal NDP’s nomination in the federal riding of Vancouver East, which covers the provincial Vancouver–Mount Pleasant constituency.

      “I think we’ve had a very vigorous campaign in Vancouver East, the federal nomination campaign. Hundreds, if not thousands, of New Democrats were signed up, and so we’re quite comfortable with working around this [June] date,” Keating said.

      Rushed isn’t even the right word to describe the party’s handling of the nomination, according to Diana Day, another First Nations woman who wants to represent the B.C. NDP in Vancouver–Mount Pleasant.

      “It’s been rammed [through],” Day told the Straight in a phone interview. “They don’t want to have a fair, democratic nomination race.”

      Even though she can’t sign up new members, Day said she will seek the nomination. The former COPE school-board candidate’s application could be denied because she won’t have been a party member for at least 90 days prior to the June nomination contest. However, Day is hoping the B.C. NDP may waive the requirement, noting the party has done that for prospective nominees in the past.