City Coun. Moe Gill says he was bullied out of the Abbotsford-South riding by the BC Liberal Party brass to make way for political newcomer Daryl Plecas.
Gill has expressed his interest in the riding for years and until this month, seemed the favourite to challenge former Liberal turned Conservative turned independent John van Dongen in next May’s provincial election.
Gill said Deputy Premier Rich Coleman had even come to his house to encourage him to run.
But at the beginning of November, the Liberals announced that Plecas, a well-known criminologist and instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley, would be acclaimed as the official candidate.
It was a move that caused the president of the Abbotsford South Liberal Riding Association and most of its board of directors to resign.
Gill said he knew the move to go with Plecas was coming after Liberal regional organizer Bruce Burley met with him at an Abbotsford restaurant.
“When he sat down with me at the table he said ‘I only work for two people. That is Christy Clark and Mike MacDonald.’ ”
MacDonald is Premier Clark’s campaign manager.
According to Gill, Burley said he was talking to him on behalf of Clark and MacDonald to let him know what they were proposing.
After a two-hour conversation, Gill said Burley left him with no options.
“He said ‘OK, the only choice you have is if you sign these papers … we’ll accept you to go to Abbotsford-Mission’ and that I call bullying me,” said Gill.
Gill admits he signed the papers for Abbotsford-Mission, but said he has no intention of running there.
Attempts by The News to contact Burley were not successful. However, a Liberal spokesperson did confirm that Burley met with Gill to encourage him to run in Abbotsford-Mission. The spokesperson then said he could not speculate why Gill “changed his mind.”
Ron Gladiuk is now the acting president of the local riding association, replacing Stephen Evans. When Evans resigned, he issued a letter to the media expressing his disappointnemt in the democratic process and hinting that Plecas may be related to Rich Coleman.
Plecas has confirmed that Coleman’s son is married to his niece.
As for the resignation of the board, MacDonald sent an email to party members to address the situation:
“The outgoing president and the five others that resigned stacked the riding AGM in May with the sole purpose of electing an executive that supported one candidate. They did not put the interests of the community or the party first. Rather, they alienated longtime executive members. They did not conduct a candidate search, raise money, or do the things our ridings are expected to do in the lead-up to an election. The events of the past day demonstrate their real agenda. Their candidate ultimately decided to contest another riding, then he changed his mind.”
He went on to praise Plecas’ accomplishments and stated “we’re proud to have him on our team. He will be a great candidate and, more importantly, a great MLA.”
Plecas was to be acclaimed last night.