De Jong signs up 12,000 new members

Make that 12,000 – not 10,000 – new Liberals signed on by the Mike de Jong Liberal leadership campaign.

Make that 12,000 – not 10,000 – new Liberals signed on by the Mike de Jong Liberal leadership campaign.

De Jong said the first number that has been reported was an estimate, but 12,000 is a more solid number.

The sign-up phase of the party leadership process ended on Friday, with the number of card-carrying Liberals in the province set to more than double to almost 90,000.

However, the Liberal race has been in the spotlight over party sign-up controversies.

A senior volunteer on the Christy Clark campaign was outed for signing up her cat, as a prank.

The Kevin Falcon campaign, which boasts 17,500 new members, admitted to signing up several members of the Kamloops Blazers hockey team without the players’ knowledge.

On Monday, Falcon accused the Clark campaign of using photocopied Liberal membership forms. Photocopies are not admissible under the party’s strict sign-up rules. Campaigns were supposed to fill out membership forms, and then be issued more from the party. That would prevent candidates from “swamping” an area with photocopied forms.

De Jong was not about to wade into that argument, saying the party will deal with any irregularities.

“I’ve seen this all before. This is the kind of thing that happens in a competition,” said de Jong. “We have tried to keep our nose clean, and do this properly.”

The race is showing some acrimony, but so far there have been no accusations levied at his camp.

De Jong is impressed that the party has been able to bolster its membership so dramatically.

“The fact so many people are stepping forward and wanting to be part of the hiring committee – that’s what I call it – that’s all good.”

He said now that sign-ups have ended, his attention shifts to the Liberal party members, to ensure they know why he is running.

For strategic reasons, de Jong did not want to say how many new members were signed up in Abbotsford, saying only they numbered in the thousands.

“I was immensely gratified by the response in Abbotsford,” he said, adding that included the 300 people who showed up to a breakfast meeting at 7 a.m. last Monday morning.

On Feb. 26, the Liberal party members will choose their leader on a preferential ballot, entered either online or by phone, using a PIN number issued by the party.

The other candidates are Ed Mayne, Moira Stilwell and George Abbott.

De Jong said the preferential ballot is another reason why candidates should maintain civility.

“Any time people in the same family are launching personal attacks, it’s unfortunate,” he said.

“On Feb. 27, everyone has to take that (candidate) badge off their lapel and hold hands.”