Maverick New Democrat Guy Gentner has lost another fight with his party.
Like the one that resulted in him and three others getting suspended 25 years ago, the dispute involves the use of the NDP brand.
This time, it’s about a group that has “B.C. NDP” in its name, the one that calls itself Forward B.C. NDP.
This is a group that surfaced after the party lost this year’s election. Its public face is Sage Aaron, daughter of the influential and long-time Surrey-Green Timbers MLA Sue Hammell.
Gentner, a former Delta North MLA, knows that one can’t mess around with the party’s brand.
Back in the 1980s, Gentner and his colleagues formed the municipal electoral organization New Delta Party.
“I mean, it was cute,” Gentner recalled in a phone interview with the Straight, although he also noted that they “never used the acronym” NDP.
B.C. NDP headquarters didn’t think it was cute, so it handed down two-year suspensions to Gentner and his group. Gentner went on to run for Delta council under the Tri-Delta banner, and years later in 2005, got elected to the first of his two terms as NDP MLA for Delta North.
Believing that a precedent was set in 1988, Gentner recently complained that the use of the party’s brand by Forward B.C. NDP is also illegitimate.
In a letter last month addressed to president Moe Sihota and provincial secretary Jan O’Brien, he pointed out that Forward B.C. NDP is not a duly constituted body approved by the provincial executive. Therefore, he argued, the use of the NDP name violates the party’s constitution.
Gentner sent a follow-up letter dated November 4 to O’Brien, stating that the “misappropriation” of the party’s name is a “serious matter”.
On November 7, O’Brien told Gentner by email that party officers have dismissed his complaint.
Asked how he feels about the decision, Gentner said: “Disappointed but not surprised.”