Anjali Appadurai says the BC NDP’s decision to disqualify her from its leadership race raises legitimate questions about the party’s democratic processes, while several federal NDP MPs think she should have been allowed to run.

Appadurai was officially disqualified from the race on Oct. 19 after running a climate-forward campaign that successfully drew thousands of new members to the provincial NDP. The disqualification was based on a report from the party’s chief electoral officer, Elizabeth Cull, which cited “serious improper conduct” by Appadurai’s campaign that included working with third parties for membership drives.

“I believe that I did the right thing. I did the democratic thing,” said Appadurai. “It didn't go the way that I had hoped, and I don't think it went in a way that was ultimately in the best interest of the party or of my opponent.”

Four federal MPs weighed in on the BC NDP leadership race on Twitter to side with Appadurai in her call to remain in the race. None agreed to answer questions from Canada’s National Observer.

“This is some bullshit right here. #LetHerRun,” Ontario MP Matthew Green tweeted on Oct. 18 in response to news that Cull recommended Appadurai be disqualified from the leadership race.

The next day, NDP MP Niki Ashton tweeted her thoughts on the situation.

“As a New Democrat, I’m very disappointed that New Democrats in BC are not going to have the choice they deserve,” the Manitoba MP wrote.

MPs Leah Gazan and Lori Idlout also took to Twitter with their takes.

“The questions we've opened up here go so far beyond me … it's about the direction of the NDP provincially, and, I would argue, federally," said @AnjaliApp, who was disqualified from the BC NDP leadership race on Wednesday. #bcpoli #BCNDP

“Members must be able to choose who leads their party. Let the members vote and #LetHerRun,” Gazan tweeted just before the BC NDP voted to disqualify Appadurai. Idlout, MP for Nunavut, commented on Gazan’s post, writing: “#LetHerRun support democracy.”

Only Idlout’s office responded to Canada’s National Observer, saying: “MP Idlout has no other comments to make on the BC NDP leadership race, and her tweet voices her opinion on this matter.”

The support from federal NDP MPs is a “really interesting indication that this conversation needed to be had,” Appadurai told Canada’s National Observer in a Zoom interview a few hours before the vote on Oct. 19.

“The questions we've opened up here go so far beyond me … it's about the direction of the NDP provincially, and, I would argue, federally.”

A lot of the BC NDP’s fear over the looming prospect of a BC Liberal Party victory and the rise of far-right elements in the country and the province was redirected onto her leadership campaign, Appadurai said.

“We're certainly hearing that commentary that we’re responsible for making the party look weak ahead of a really critical election, and to that I say, if the party doubles down on the centralization of power in the name of winning elections, we have lost sight of who we are and what we stand for.”

The whole situation highlights a clear division between rank-and-file members and the party leaders, says Max Cameron, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia.

Things hit this “crisis point” through a combination of factors: low BC NDP membership numbers, the party’s failure to keep rank-and-file members engaged, a premier who has been very clear about favouring development over the environment and a climate emergency, said Cameron.

Within the BC NDP, environmentally conscious voters are always in a “tug of war” with those who place more emphasis on the need to maintain a productive economy and good-paying jobs, said Stewart Prest, a political scientist at Quest University in Squamish, B.C. The province’s investment in liquefied natural gas projects and its relative inaction on old-growth logging are emblematic of this tension.

“It's always been this balance, and I think it's partly a function of being in government, but it's also partly a function of the different factions that exist within the NDP itself,” said Prest. These factions also exist within the federal NDP, he added.

For example, the federal NDP has long avoided answering whether it would cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion if the party came to power.

“The federal NDP is compromised on fighting the Trans Mountain pipeline because they don't want to upset Rachel Notley, and the federal NDP doesn't fight fracking because they don't want to upset John Horgan,” Green MP and leadership hopeful Elizabeth May told Canada’s National Observer.

Unlike the governing BC NDP, the federal NDP is “effectively a protest party,” said Sanjay Jeram, a professor of political science at Simon Fraser University. “They do play a role in this minority coalition … but they're not a party that can expect to form government on their own… They play by different rules.

“The (federal) NDP is holding their party together. But ... it's a fairly small caucus at this point,” said Jeram. “Where they are with only a very limited number of seats, mostly in very, very dense urban areas, I think it's easier for them to sort of maintain a unified approach.”

If the federal NDP had more party members and MPs, particularly in union-dense ridings where their presence has diminished, you'd probably see “more open conflict” and balancing acts that “(spew) out into the public,” he added.

— With files from The Canadian Press

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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Ironic that federal MPs speak out. When Singh ran for the leadership, a vast majority of MPs opposed his candidacy, predicting the collapse of the party if he won - the membership thought otherwise.

John Horgan won an election on promises to implement all 14 recommendations of the old growth strategic review panel. By silencing Anjali Appadurai they've betrayed the environmentalists and people demanding climate action amongst their party supporters. Those in control of the BC NDP have shown their true colours and I suspect they're going to lose a critical numbers in the next election. But at least they still have the logging communities and coal mining communities behind them. Anyone worried about floods, drought, wildfires and biodiversity loss should, "get a life." And maybe vote for another party.

Anyone worried about floods, drought, wildfires and biodiversity loss should, "get a life." And maybe vote for another party.
Surely not the Liberals, so then - the Green Party? And vote for a party that would shut down logging, shut down the mills, shut down the gas fields, and not so incidentally, put thousands out of work in the very areas most devastated by the recent environmental catastrophes.
If you want a simplistic [rhetorical] solution, try this: It all boils down to too many people using up too many resources and this is killing the natural world. The answer clearly is to get rid of most of the people and integrate the remaining humans into an ecology that could support a stone age human culture. Life without penicillin was brutish and short. Don't fancy this? Then start thinking "realistically".

I quit the BC provincial wing of the NDP in 2017 over what I perceived as its failing to live up to the promises about fixing the disastrous environmental policies enacted by the Liberals.

First they declined to shut down the white elephant that is the Site C hydro electric projects. A white elephant that is growing bigger and uglier by the minute.

Then they accepted the continuance of the Coastal Gas Link-Prince Rupert LNG project. A carbon bomb, in both senses, that will destroy any chance of BC getting a grip on greenhouse gas emissions any time within the foreseeable future.

I am not completely sold on Ms Appadurai's suitability as leader/premier. But I do not think she should have been disqualified.

Good comments.

However, if Anjali had followed the rules and not supplied fake (i.e. questionable duo party) memberships through a blazingly stupid act by Dogwood personnel who obviously lacked critical thinking skills on the ramifications, let alone on managing political campaigns, she would not have been disqualified. She would likely have lost the leadership contest with honour, and gone on with a very positive raised profile. At worst, she could have won and caused upheaval as inexperience leads to major bumbling on issues she is not voiced in. The NDP's internal fears were justified, not just on environmental issues, but on managerial expertise. Chaos is no one's friend.

Moreover, Anjali could simply have applied to run as a provincial MLA in the next election, but somehow impatience -- some would say a bald-faced grab for power as an unqualified leader with zero experience in government -- ruled the day and the quick, no fuss route to instant power ended up in a garbage tip with several ruptured tankers of embarrassment sloshed all around.

I would also completely reject this incident as discrimination against youth. It is in reality a harsh lesson about naivete and impatience to skip over the real work and arrive at the top floor without stopping on the way up. Pay your dues. Earn your keep. Or pay the consequences by insulting those who already have.

Exposing the BC NDP's environmental flaws and inside electoral weaknesses is a good thing that can be very healthy and lead to positive change and another term in office. Or not. David Eby and his cabinet have a couple of years to prove they are capable of changing policy in good faith, or they will not survive the public's wrath.

The NDP did not compose Anjali's new membership list, though they certainly put it under the microscope and found it contaminated with a number of cheaters. That is clearly in Anjali's court. I really was looking forward to her running again in Vancouver Granville. It's disappointing she and her managers blew it so badly.

Rules exist for a reason.

It has to be added that this predicament also reflects badly on enviro groups like Dogwood, and the BC Greens. If they are capable of this kind of cynical political gamesmanship and cheating, then that is a knock on their own ethical centre of gravity. Duo memberships are fake memberships that disappear after the contest ends. It's an old hack's technique more often played out in right wing or large centrist parties, not on the left with a supposedly sharper moral focus.

They were given enough rope to ... you know the rest. It didn't have to end this way.

Uh, how does this reflect badly on the BC Greens? They weren't involved in this.

I can remember a time when NDP'ers were saying to enviros, "don't support the Green Party, and don't divide the left. If you want progress on environmental issues, join the NDP."
Well, some Green Party people did exactly that, and look what happened. The lesson we enviros can learn from this is, the NDP may want your vote, your money, and your work for phone banking and canvassing, but they don't want YOU. They are not going to give you any real voice in policy; the best you can hope for is a nomination in an unwinnable riding.
And I'm not finished. during various efforts I was involved in to bring in proportional representation, the NDP'ers said, "if you want proportional representation, elect an NDP government." I hope that not very many people took this seriously. The NDP insiders ratfucked the 2009 referendum. NDP insider Bill Tieleman fought proportional representation tooth and nail, and _The Tyee_ published his anti-PR tirades many times. Tieleman even went so far as to tell the NDP government in Alberta to break an election promise about it. And finally, I haven't forgotten that it was soon-to-be Premier David Eby who bungled the 2018 referendum.

Excellent comment.

I agree on your take on proportionality and Bill Tieleman, who is a public relations consultant and uniquely conservative in a traditional left party. He ran in Vancouver's recent municipal election under the ragefest Team banner, a just-say-no-to-everything party (even to affordable housing). He distorted reality in a CBC interview when he claimed there wasn't enough consultation on the Broadway Plan, which allows for the creation of 30,000 to 50,000 housing units, focusing on rentals and subsidized units. I have a Gmail folder filled with three years of consultative emails on the Plan that proves him wrong. Kinda funny to consider him a consultation professional.

However, I disagree with your comment about Greens being up front about joining the NDP as part of Anjali's membership list. They were members of two parties, info they hid that clearly against the rules. Dogwood and the Greens and possibly Anjali herself knew beforehand, but carried on anyway. Obviously, that was seen as an easy back door sneak attack to gain instant power, and they cynically exploited it to promote a popular, honestly passionate woman about environment / climate / human rights, but also one who is not yet qualified to run a large government and make law about a provincial economy. Posing fake memberships did not do anyone any good.

David Eby et al have some time to think it all over and respond accordingly. No change, then no public enviro support, and no electoral success as the progressive vote splits. A change of direction on NDP environmental policy is clearly in order. It is, after all, the 21st Century.

Would Eby dare to propose an official coalition with the Greens (perhaps with an expiry date) for the next election, considering the lack of proportionality in the system? Would the Greens agree, especially if offered a couple of inner cabinet seats? Would the unelected NDP aparatchiks and the caucus majority accept that this change is necessary? Would the government be able to cancel or whittle down its allowing the extirpation of old growth forests and participation in LNG despite the labour, Indigenous (mixed bag of support and rejection on that front) and economic benefits? Or will world fossil fuel prices do it for them in future?

Good questions need answers.

If it's No to all, then its hello premier Kevin "Asphalt" Falcon.

Thanks for the well-thought-out response.
About your last paragraph; I consider going to proportional representation as critical, and Eby has demonstrated that he's not capable of delivering on this.
And yes, regardless of anything else, the sooner that those unelected NDP apparatchiks recognize that Tieleman is a plague on their party, the better.

articles and the comments leads me to believe that whatever party rules in BC will end up failing to deal with the province's entrapment in the resource extraction sector as the mainstay of its economy. Is thee something in the water in BC? Or is it the stinky lingering legacy of Wacky Bennett? Or maybe it is the vertical structure of the province that stifles the innovative and entrepreneurial spirits of the people?

Whatever it is, one gets the sense that BC's politicians especially, are terrified, white supremacists who cannot adjust to the wider diverse world where climate catastrophe has paralyzed their critical thinking faculties.