VICTORIA — David Eby will officially be declared the leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party on Friday, clearing the way for him to be sworn in as premier.

A statement from the party's chief electoral officer, Elizabeth Cull, said that after the executive's decision Wednesday night to disqualify the only other candidate, Anjali Appadurai, she will declare Eby the new leader.

Premier John Horgan had said he would leave in December, but Cull said she can adjust the leadership election date as there is only one candidate.

Cheers and clapping were heard from inside the NDP morning caucus meeting while Eby spoke to his colleagues virtually Thursday.

Ravi Kahlon, Eby's campaign co-chairman, told the media afterwards that the party has been through a difficult process but is united behind Eby.

Kahlon said Eby received a standing ovation.

"For us as a caucus, we're ready to get to work because we know that's important to British Columbians," Kahlon said.

"There was a lot of excitement in the room."

Kahlon said Eby is sticking to his earlier campaign pledge not to call an early election.

B.C. NDP announces it will declare David Eby the new leader of the party on Friday after challenger Anjali Appadurai was disqualified from the race. #bcpoli #climate

The next provincial election is scheduled for October 2024.

Appadurai was disqualified after a report by Cull found she "engaged in serious improper conduct" by working with third parties, including the environmental group Dogwood BC, for membership drives on her behalf.

Cull also concluded that Dogwood solicited "fraudulent memberships" by encouraging members of other political parties to join the New Democrats so they could vote in the race.

Appadurai and Dogwood deny any rules were broken.

Appadurai was to hold a news conference later Thursday, but said Wednesday that her team used grassroots organizing to sign up thousands of new members, significantly more than Eby.

"And so, the party had a choice. Let all the members of the party, new and old, choose the next leader and risk having a climate champion in the premier seat or take this undemocratic approach and disqualify the candidate.”

Elections BC said in a statement Thursday that it has closed its review into possible political contributions from Dogwood BC to Appadurai's campaign after the NDP's decision to disqualify her.

The review was started when complaints were made alleging Dogwood's activities in the leadership race may constitute in-kind political contributions under the Elections Act, it said.

"The Act requires approved leadership contestants to only accept political contributions from eligible individuals, and file financing reports with Elections BC. The Act further prohibits organizations from making political contributions, in-kind or otherwise, to approved leadership contestants."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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