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David Eby has ‘mixed feelings’ about end of race as he gets set to become premier

Eby is scheduled to hold a news conference Friday after he becomes the party leader
Former B.C. attorney general and housing minister David Eby speaks to the media during a news conference in a park in downtown Vancouver, Thursday, October 20, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C.’s premier-in-waiting says the supporters of his disqualified rival can find a home in the party he is set to lead.

David Eby will be declared the British Columbia NDP leader on Friday, clearing the way for him to become premier of the province, but it’s been a bumpy ride.

In his first public comments since the only other candidate for the job, Anjali Appadurai, was disqualified, Eby said he has “mixed feelings” about how the leadership contest ended and has already sent an email to current NDP members to encourage them to stay involved.

“Like all New Democrats, I am excited about having discussions about where our government is and where we should be going and (I) have had those discussions across the province,” he said.

“And I see in Anjali a person who’s enthusiastic, brought a lot of energy, got a lot of people engaged in the party. I want those folks to stay engaged and want that conversation to continue.”

Appadurai said she will remain a member of the NDP and has no plans to halt her political activism.

“I categorically reject I am an outsider to this party,” she said at a news conference held at the front steps of the legislature. “I’m going to continue to stay involved.”

Eby is scheduled to hold a news conference Friday after he becomes the party leader to lay out plans for his first 100 days in office. Details regarding his transition to the premier’s office are still being worked out, he said.

Eby said he is grateful to Appadurai for getting more people involved.

“Government is an incredibly important way to deliver for people what they’re looking for and I know British Columbians want to see action on climate and I’m committed to that too,” he said.

Eby received strong endorsement on Thursday from current Premier John Horgan, who accused Appadurai’s campaign of resorting to “thuggery.”

“I’m ready to go and I’m very, very, very pleased David Eby is going to be the next premier of B.C.,” said Horgan at a news conference. “I’m a British Columbian and I want a confident, competent, compassionate leader and he fits that bill.”

Eby is the former attorney general and housing minister. He had no competition for the job until environmental activist Appadurai entered the race.

The party disqualified her late Wednesday after a report by the party’s chief electoral officer found she “engaged in serious improper conduct” by working with third parties, including the environmental group Dogwood BC, for membership drives on her behalf.

Horganacknowledged the controversy surrounding the leadership race and blamed the Appadurai campaign.

“These things happen, sometimes campaigns are not following the rules,” Horgan said. “This has become a much more public affair. I’m fine with that and I’m sure the Appadurai campaign is fine with that. It strikes me that was their objective from the beginning.”

He said leadership races often create tensions and at times candidates are disqualified.

A statement from the party’s chief electoral officer, Elizabeth Cull, said that after the executive’s decision to disqualify Appadurai, she will declare Eby the new leader on Friday.

Eby met virtually with his caucus colleagues on Thursday and cheers and clapping could be heard from outside the room.

Ravi Kahlon, Eby’s campaign co-chairman, told the media afterwards that the party has been through a difficult process but is united behind Eby.

Kahlon said Eby received a standing ovation.

“For us as a caucus, we’re ready to get to work because we know that’s important to British Columbians,” Kahlon said.

“There was a lot of excitement in the room.”

Kahlon said Eby is sticking to his campaign pledge not to call an early election.

The next provincial election is scheduled for October 2024.

“David’s been clear, we already have a mandate from the public,” said Kahlon. “He’s indicated we have a mandate, there’s an election date and we’re certainly going to proceed to do the work we need to do to that date.

—Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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