Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

Selfie taken by Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, left, and Mandolyn Jonasson having fun at a women’s conference in Vancouver

Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?


Questions of impropriety at the Green Party of Canada’s nomination meeting in June erupted this week when one of the candidates went public with allegations that the vote was corrupted.

In a post to the Comox Valley Politics Facebook page, Mandolyn Jonasson, who had sought the party’s nomination, said the Greens’ nomination process was tainted and because of that party Leader Elizabeth May personally recommended a re-vote.

Jonasson, a Qualicum Beach business owner who was solicited by the party to seek the nomination told Decafnation on Saturday that at least two confirmed party members received double ballots in their voting envelopes at the nomination meeting, which was held during the Courtenay-Alberni riding’s annual general meeting on June 15.

She says organizers did not announce an exact vote count in contravention of party procedures nor did they keep any record of results. That has made it impossible to verify that the number of counted ballots equalled the number of members at the party’s Annual General Meeting, or the margin of victory.

The ballot box wasn’t continually monitored throughout the voting process, nor did candidates have representatives present during the count, according to Jonasson.

Jonasson was told she lost the nomination to Wood by just four votes.

But it wasn’t the mistakes made during the nomination voting that concern Jonasson the most.

“Mistakes can happen. It’s how you rectify and handle them afterwards,” she told Decafnation. “It’s the fact that they (GPC officials) were complicit in acknowledging the mistakes and then suppressing it and trying to suppress me or anyone else in the party.”

When Jonasson tried to appeal the nomination results, she and others were advised by officials of the party’s electoral district association (EDA) to direct her appeal to Liberty Bradshaw, local EDA president.

But she later received notice from the GPC national office saying the EDA officials were confused about the appeal protocol and that she would have to appeal through the Green Party’s own ombudsperson, which she did.

The Green Party’s national Executive Director Emily McMillan told Decafnation that Jonasson’s appeal was rejected because “it was not brought to our attention within the time frame (72 hours) or to the right people (Green Party ombuds).”

“These were inexperienced volunteers (at the EDA nomination meeting), McMillan told Decafnation in a telephone interview. “Doing the best they could.”

In a follow-up email, McMillan said the party determined that minor errors in the conduct of the meeting did not invalidate or have any conclusive impact on the outcome of the vote, and that Sean Wood is the properly nominated GPC candidate for Courtenay—Alberni.

“Ms. Jonasson was provided with a detailed report to this effect. This was done despite the fact that Ms. Jonasson’s complaint itself was technically invalid as it was submitted six weeks following the nomination meeting — well outside of the 72 hour window allowed for appeals. Ms. Jonasson was unable to justify this delay,” McMillan said.

But the party did an investigation anyway. A report of that investigation from Federal Green Party President Jean-Luc Cooke has not been released to the public. Jonasson has a copy but is bound by a non-disclosure agreement to maintain its confidentiality.

GPC official Rosie Emery initially told Decafnation that Jonasson had no non-disclosure agreement. But Christina Winter, campaign advisor for Wood, indicated there was an NDA.

Jonasson maintains that Elizabeth May told her in person during an Equal Voice conference in Vancouver that she recommended a revote in the Courtenay-Alberni riding and that Wood should step down. But the party leader also said she couldn’t interfere because the GPC is a bottom-up, not a top-down organization.

Wood has not responded to several attempts for comment on this story.

An email sent by Kate Storey on July 25 to all members of the party’s electoral district association, including Don Munroe who resigned over the nomination irregularities, and Sean Wood, urged the candidate to step down.

“I can’t tell the EDA what to do … but, in my opinion, if the candidate wants to improve his public image and get the support of the whole EDA behind him, then he might want to step down and ask for a new nomination meeting. It would clear away the uncertainty and would help his campaign,” Storey said.

Cumberland Councillor Vicky Brown, who attended the meeting, recalls that after members voted, the ballot box was taken into a room, but that there was no call for scrutineers.

“I thought the vote was handled very loosely, not secure at all. There could have easily been several people with double (or more) ballots in their envelopes,” Brown told Decafnation. “Because there were no numbers given, and I don’t know if anyone counted the total voters in the room, it’s difficult to know whether the vote count was accurate.”

Brown was one of many who emailed the EDA afterward to ask these questions and received no response.

“Because of this, the nomination process was suspect to me and I was left with an uneasy feeling about the whole thing,” Brown said. “I’m disappointed that the riding association couldn’t find a way to resolve this in a transparent way.”

At one point, on July 20, Jonasson received notice from the Courtenay-Alberni EDA that there would be a revote and an official went so far as to ask if she’d be willing to run a second time. But that was never brought up again, Jonasson said.

Jonasson, who still supports Green Party policies, said her reason for going public now was not personal, but because she cares about democracy.

“I’m not going to be bullied,” she said. “I know I’m martyring myself, they’re going to try and discredit me. But there’s a lot of people who saw this and know about it but don’t want to put themselves on the line.”








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Open letter to Byron Horner, climate change questions he would have asked

Open letter to Byron Horner, climate change questions he would have asked


AAn open letter to Byron Horner, conservative candidate in 2019 for Courtenay-Alberni:

I like the “balanced approach” slogan on your campaign posters. However, I find this difficult to reconcile with the way the Conservative Party in Canada has positioned itself in the 21st century. Are you in the vanguard of a dramatic change, in which the Conservative Party is rediscovering an obligation to society as a whole? Or are you in the vanguard of some new public relations spin?

Andrew Scheer was a cabinet minister in the highly “unbalanced” Harper government and he gave no indication that he would be taking the Conservative Party in a new direction when he became party leader. In fact, he has actively sought Harper’s support in the 2019 election. Are there any signs that a new direction has been called for by Harper himself? That question can be answered with three letters: IDU. The International Democratic Union is an organization fanatically devoted to getting right-wing governments elected worldwide and it seems to have been the source of the robocall technique that helped Canadian Conservatives win a majority government in 2011. Steven Harper is currently the chairman of the IDU! No mellowing in old age going on for him.

A commitment to balance will require a degree of progressivism to be reintroduced into conservative ideology. Is the Conservative Party willing to change with changing circumstances, or will it simply entrench itself as the party of a failing status quo? Can the Conservative party support the transition to a steady-state economy in which human beings live sustainably, or will it continue to support a “growth” economy which booms as long as resources are abundant and pollution is discounted and then grinds to a halt when lack of planning catches up to it?

In regard to climate change, the issue identified by voters as being the most important in 2019, it is increasingly difficult to believe that the Conservative Party supports a balanced approach. I wonder if you would defend these recent developments:

The refusal to acknowledge the severity of the climate crisis by all Conservative MPs, despite the 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying that CO2 emissions have to fall by 45 percent within 12 years to reach Paris Agreement goals by 2050.

Jason Kenney’s taxpayer-funded war room to attack the “lies” of environmentalists (and presumably climate scientists) with the “truth” provided by oil and gas industry insiders.

The attack on the carbon tax by Scheer, Kenney, and Doug Ford as a tax grab that takes money out of people’s pockets despite the provision (which is never mentioned) to give the money back.

The Conservative long-time-in-coming climate plan calling for replacement of the tried and tested carbon tax with a vague system of fines for polluting companies which lacks specifics on targets and timelines. (One critic has said “it is like a carbon tax, with the added goal of ineffectuality”.)

The Conservative climate plan’s faith in carbon capture technology which, in its most feasible form, will simply lower the rate of pollution rather than taking CO2 out of the air. (In any case, the more CO2 that is captured the greater the problem of storing it underground and monitoring it indefinitely for leaks. What could possibly go wrong?)

Scheer’s unqualified support for 150 pipeline supporters in the United We Roll demonstration in Ottawa, which featured speeches about “cutting off the head of the snake” and “rolling over every Liberal in the country”. (By contrast, Scheer failed to support the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who demonstrated for climate action on September 27th.)

I got the idea to write this letter when I attended the all-candidates climate meeting in Courtenay on October 4th. It was well attended by citizens concerned about the climate crisis who will make up more than two thirds of your constituents should you be elected as the Courtenay-Alberni MP. My letter expands on the question I would have asked if you had seen fit to be at the meeting.

David Anson is a Courtenay resident



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Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

NDP incumbent MP Gord Johns is seeking a second term on Oct. 21

Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni


Gord Johns, the incumbent MP for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, went to Ottawa in 2015 believing that members of minority parties could get things done in the Canadian Parliament. And, he says, he proved it was true.

During Johns first term as a New Democratic Party MP, he passed two motions with unanimous support. One that benefited 40,000 Canadian veterans and another that benefited the world’s oceans. He helped bring $100 million to his riding for community infrastructure projects.

And, he says, he has been a voice for indigenous people on the national stage. He secured funding for a coordinator of the new Coast Guard Auxiliary Indigenous Peoples program that will employ 10 First Nations people located in Tofino.

Johns helped seure $375,000 for a new art gallery on Hornby Island, where 40 percent of residents make their living from the arts. And he used the media to shine a light on the derelict and abandoned vessels in Deep Bay, something the former Conservative MP John Duncan promised for years but didn’t do.

He played a key role in securing funds to restore the Sproat Lake water bombers with a new technology that enables them to fight fires at night. And he helped Pacific Coast University access $200,000 to fund a return-to-work pilot program that could ultimately expand to benefit 1.2 million Canadians who have been hurt on the job.

“We have lots of little communities in this riding, and everybody counts,” John said. “The mayors and councils know who’s been helping and working collaboratively for their benefit.”

And if the NDP hold the balance of power in a new Liberal minority government on Oct. 21, as he expects, Johns says he will have the opportunity to do even more for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.


First term accomplishments

Johns, who was born, raised and educated (Camosun College) on the Island, has served on the Tofino district council and as executive director of the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. He has owned and operated several businesses, including EcoEverything that specialized in sustainable products.

He is the only federal election candidate in Courtenay-Alberni who has held public office, led a nonprofit, run small businesses or has lived on the Island for a lifetime.

And, he is the first MP in 25 years to have two private member’s motions/bills pass in a single parliamentary session.

In 2016, Johns first motion restored $372 million in lapsed Veterans Affairs funding to improve services and benefits for veterans seeking medical care. The MP says there are about 40,000 veterans’ medical claims that haven’t been addressed. But reallocating those unspent dollars will clear the backlog.

The next year, Johns introduced a motion for a national strategy on plastics pollution that was passed in 2018 after months of discussions. His motion ultimately led to the Liberals pledge of a national ban on single-use plastics by 2021.

If he’s returned to parliament, Johns promises to ensure that a Liberal majority or minority government will follow through on that promise.

Johns was one of 25 federal candidates endorsed by GreenPAC, a nonpartisan nonprofit supporting environmental leaders from all major Canadian parties.


Conservatives failed the riding

Johns sees the Courtenay-Alberni riding as a contest between the NDP and the Conservatives. That gives voters a clear choice, he says, between a candidate who is connected to the wealthiest people who dropped into the riding from West Vancouver and himself, a local candidate who has proven he’s on the side of the people and the communities.

“While I was helping 40,000 veterans, by contrast the Conservatives had cut 1,000 jobs and closed nine offices in an attack on the veterans community,” he told Decafnation. “While the local Conservative candidate calls my bills irrelevant, his party leader, Andrew Scheer, voted for it.”

Likewise, Johns says Coastal BC needs $500 million for salmon restoration and habitat enhancement, which is part of the NDP platform. But when the Conservatives had power they cut $100 million out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and “gutted it.”

“Now our salmon are in crisis. The Fraser River return was the lowest in history,” he said. “We talk about the devastation that forest fires cause in the north, well, this rises to that level for coastal people. It’s our food, our culture, our way of life.”

The Conservatives 97 members in the last parliament rose to argue against the carbon tax 748 times in question period, he says, but never once in favor of helping Pacific salmon.

Johns rose 652 times during his first four years, compared to former MP James Lunney’s 660 times in 15 years.

“I rose to mention Nuu-chah-nulth 48 times, Lunney rose zero,” he said. “Rising to speak in the house gives a voice to the needs and concerns of people in the riding. Under the Conservatives they had no voice. They were not represented.”

The NDP, he says, are pledging a public dental plan and pharmacare, while the Conservatives promise deep tax cuts.

“It’s a clear choice,” he said.


Predicts no pipeline

Johns is also confident the TransMountain pipeline won’t be built.

“The opposition of coastal people is too strong. Local people always win,” he said. “Justin Trudeau has underestimated the will of coastal people.”

Johns wants to address housing issues next. In the 1970 and 1980s, there was 10 percent of housing available at non-market rates. Today it’s only four percent. In Europe, it’s 30 percent. The NDP has pledged to build 500,000 housing units to get Canada back to the 10 percent level.

And he says the NDP will fight the inequality that has grown under recent governments, and inject fairness. Their platform includes a one percent tax on every million dollars of wealth over $20 million, a plan that would raise $70 billion over 10 years.

“We’re asking them to pay a little bit more se we can do pharmacare, dental care and fund early childhood education,” he said. “We need to pull together to make our nation work for everyone.

This article has been updated.







Friday, October 11, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019

Or before Oct. 15 at the Elections Canada office at 2435 Mansfield Drive
Courtenay BC V9N2M2



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Liberal Jonah Gowans represents new gen of political junkies

Liberal Jonah Gowans represents new gen of political junkies

Liberal Jonah Gowans says he will run a positive campaign  /  George Le Masurier photo

Liberal Jonah Gowans represents new gen of political junkies


Twenty six-year-old Liberal Party Candidate Jonah Gowans started his political career at age 8.

Resisting his parent’s attempt to put him to bed one night, Gowans says his exasperated mother asked him, “Who do you think you are? You’re not the prime minister, you know.”

So the next day, he did an Internet search to find out what a ‘prime minister’ was and that kick started his early obsession with politics.

The federal Liberals tapped the Powell-River native to run in the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Until recently, Gowans has lived in Victoria where he works as an assistant for five BC Liberal Party MLAs.

Gowans couldn’t say why the federal party reached out to him, but he’s grateful for the opportunity to make his first run at public office.

Asked why they went outside the riding for a candidate, Liberal riding association President Ken Richardson said the party’s local board of directors believed Gowans would make a good representative in Ottawa.

“Jonah was keen to be a candidate in this riding, and he was the only candidate in Courtenay-Alberni approved by the Liberal Party’s Green Light Committee,” Richardson told Decafnation.

A new generation

As a self-described political junkie with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Ottawa, Gowans says it’s time for his generation of future leaders to do their part.

“I consider my age an asset, not a threat,” he told Decafnation this week. “We’re a generation with new ideas for the party on how to get things done, and I have as much or more experience on to move legislation as the other candidates.”

Gowans joined the Young Liberals of Canada organization at age 18 after spending time volunteering for various political parties, including the Greens, NDP and federal Liberals. He worked on federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna’s successful campaign in 2015 and volunteered regularly on Parliament Hill before moving to Victoria to take a position at the BC Legislature.

Although he’s never lived in the new Courtenay-Alberni riding, he has spent a lot of time here. His grandparents live in Port Alberni and he visited Courtenay frequently as a high school athlete who played multiple sports, such as rugby, basketball and track.

“I spent so much time at G.P. Vanier, the coaches there still recognize me,” Gowans said. “I travelled to Vanier on 33 weekends of my senior year in high school.”

Campaign issues

On the issues, Gowans is focused on the environment and affordability. He says the concept of affordability permeates many aspects of Canadian life, including housing and health care.

“Young people and seniors are most affected by the lack of affordable housing,” he said. “That’s high on my list.”

He supports Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment for a national pharmacare program that would extend prescription drug coverage to all Canadians.

“And, of course, jobs. Creating more local jobs helps make everything more affordable,” he said.

The environment and the effects of climate change are important to politically active members of his generation, Gowans says.

He thinks Trudeau has taken a fair and balanced approach to the TransMountain pipeline by “taking our lumps, going back to the drawing board and working through the process, without an adversarial mindset.”

He says everyone on the BC coast fears the consequences of an oil spill.

“But fear can’t be the only thing guiding public policy,” he said. “We won’t get off oil entirely anytime soon. The BC government has set a target of 2040 to eliminate gas vehicles, but we still won’t be oil free even then.”

Gowans believes the pipeline has a place “for the moment,” and he trusts Environment Minister McKenna to stand up for the environment and reel Trudeau back in “if he’s gone too far.”


A clean campaign

Gowans says he will campaign on his ability to get things done.

In grade 12, Gowans and some friends restarted Powell River’s Youth Resource Center and raised enough funds to finance its first year. Then they handed it off to younger teenagers — one of his younger brothers included — and the center is still going eight years later.

He thinks the Oct. 21 election will come down to choice on who Canadians trust the most: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau or Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

“In many ways, it’s a similar choice that voters had in 2015, when not everyone knew Trudeau,” he said. “Now they do and they will feel more comfortable with their vote for him.”

Gowans says he will run a positive campaign. He doesn’t plan to launch any negative attack ads on incumbent MP Gord Johns as the Conservative candidate Byron Horner has been doing.

“I will show people an alternative approach that I think would work better, not drag somebody else down,” he says. “If you say some policy or other is wrong, show us how you would make it better.”

Gowans plans extensive door knocking in his 8,900 square kilometer riding that stretches from Nanoose to Tofino and from Lasqueti, Denman and Hornby islands to Bamfield. It even includes unlikely pieces of the Comox Valley you would think of as Comox.

He knows the incumbent — NDP Gord Johns — is well-liked and will be a formidable opponent. But he thinks of himself as seasoned in facing tough opponents.











Friday, October 11, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019

Or before Oct. 15 at the Elections Canada office at 2435 Mansfield Drive
Courtenay BC V9N2M2


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The Week: Courtenay Liberals without candidate days into the Oct. 21 federal election

The Week: Courtenay Liberals without candidate days into the Oct. 21 federal election

It’s nearly the end of the season for this grove of banana trees on the Comox peninsula  /  George Le Masurier photo

The Week: Courtenay Liberals without candidate days into the Oct. 21 federal election


UPDATE: The Liberal Party just announced their candidate at 2.48 pm today. See the story here.

Three days into the federal election campaign and the Liberal Party in the Courtenay-Alberni riding still has not chosen a candidate.

Last week, riding President Ken Richardson told Decafnation that he expected to announce their candidate early this week. But this week has come and gone. And the federal Liberals did not have a candidate as of this morning.

It’s not like they didn’t know a federal election writ would drop this fall. Everybody knew that and the other three main parties — Conservatives, NDP and the Greens — had candidates ready and already campaigning.

So, what’s going on with the federal Liberal Party?

Maybe nobody is stepping up in the riding that most people think will be a battle between incumbent Gord Johns of the NDP and Byron Horner of the Conservatives.

Or, maybe there’s a backroom deal in the works.

There’s enough ideological overlap between the provincial Liberals and the Federal Conservatives to engender suspicions of a deal. The Liberals promise not to run a federal candidate so as not to take votes from the Conservatives, giving Horner a better chance against Johns and the NDP. In turn, the Conservatives promise not to run a candidate in the next provincial election, giving the eventual BC Liberal candidate a better chance against Ronna Rae-Leonard — who only squeaked into office by a handful of votes.

But that’s delving a little too deep into conspiracy theories. Or is it? What is the alternative reason for the federal Liberals to lag so far behind?

The CBC won’t host a federal election debate focused on climate change, but a group of Comox Valley organizations have planned one for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.

The candidates forum to talk about the climate crisis and what our role is to fix it is being sponsored by the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Comox Valley Youth Environmental Action, Cumberland Community Forest Society, Dogwood, K’omoks First Nation, Project Watershed, Unitarian Fellowship and World Community.

(Full disclosure, I will be moderating the event)

The debate is scheduled for 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm on Friday, Oct. 4 at the Florence Filberg Centre – Upper Conference Hall located at 411 Anderton Ave Courtenay.

Comox resident Ken McDonald warns people not to let their dogs drink water from Brooklyn Creek. He sent Decafnation a photo of the creek this week. Here’s what McDonald says:

“You will notice that the water is “sudsy.” It gets that way during a first-flush (rainfalls after a dry period). I didn’t take a water quality sample of Brooklyn Creek (just Golf creek to gather evidence), but I know that when the creek looks like that, it is very contaminated, usually with large concentrations of fecal contamination and heavy metals.

“I warned some folks walking their dogs along Brooklyn Creek to not let the dogs drink the water when it is sudsy. Most were shocked, upset and disgusted. And people wonder why the salmon population is declining. If human beings had to continually swim in the filth that they generate, our population would be declining as well.”

Speaking of water quality … who monitors the water quality at the Comox Valley’s public swimming beaches? Not Island Health. They decided to stop monitoring — if they ever did — our Valey’s beaches and shift that responsibility onto local Comox Valley governments.

Except Island Health forgot to tell the municipalities.

When Decafnation contacted them, neither Cumberland, Comox, Courtenay or the regional district knew anything about the change. But other municipalities did. Saanich, for example, is already monitoring beaches in their jurisdiction.

Maybe Island Health doesn’t think swimmers here have any cause for concern. Looking at their website, it doesn’t appear that water quality at places like Kye Bay, Goose Spit and Comox Lake have ever been monitoring. At least we couldn’t find any data.

But when most of our creeks and streams carry contaminants into the estuary, Comox Harbour and Baynes Sound, maybe we should be monitor ocean water quality. Most of the whole area has been permanently closed to shellfish harvesting, so the water quality can’t be that good.



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