Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone participates in B.C. Liberal leadership debate Jan. 23, 2018 (Black Press files)

Todd Stone, B.C. Liberals fire back at rivals’ claim of bad sign-ups

Party says all candidates had memberships rejected after audit

Rival leadership campaigns claiming B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone’s team has a particular problem with rejected memberships represent a sign he’s doing well, an official with his campaign says.

With voting by party members about to get underway Thursday, campaign officials for Andrew Wilkinson, Mike de Jong, Michael Lee and Dianne Watts wrote to the party’s executive suggesting “invalid or rejected memberships collected by the Todd Stone leadership campaign” are an issue for the integrity of the vote.

Their letter was fed to two Vancouver media outlets on Tuesday, prompting the party executive to issue a statement saying all the campaigns have had rejected memberships.

“The fact that just days before the leadership vote, four other campaigns feel they need to gang up against Stone is an indication that his positive message and support is resonating,” said Stephen Smart, spokesman for the Stone campaign.

B.C. Liberal Party executive director Emile Scheffel said in a statement that more than 14,000 calls have been made to party members to verify their memberships and contact information. The party has doubled its membership to about 60,000 with six candidates vying to replace former premier Christy Clark as party leader.

RELATED: B.C. Liberal candidates make last prime-time pitch

Inspection and verification of new memberships continues to take place for all leadership campaigns, “with the result that a number of applications from each of the submitting campaigns were not accepted,” Scheffel said.

The party executive declined to comment on any individual campaign, or the actual number of rejected memberships. Stone said two weeks ago when rumours began circulating about his sign-ups that the percentage of rejected memberships for his campaign was “in the low single digits,” and similar to other leadership campaigns.

Voting is open Feb. 1-3, with a cutoff at 5 p.m. Saturday and an announcement of the first round of results from a ranked ballot.

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