Most members of the Liberal electoral district association in Jody Wilson-Raybould’s Vancouver-Granville riding have quit in light of the former cabinet minister’s decision to run for re-election this fall as an independent.
Claire Marshall, the outgoing chair of the riding association, confirmed the exits Thursday, saying that nine of 15 members of the board – herself included – have quit effective this week.
“We began to see our position as increasingly difficult and, in many cases, untenable,” Ms. Marshall said in an interview.
“The energy and enthusiasm necessary to continue in our roles, to conduct candidate searches, simply wasn’t there to run a campaign against Jody,” Ms. Marshall said. “We’ve built a good relationship with her; she has been so great to work with. We still support her.”
The exits come ahead of an election expected in October in which the Liberals were hoping to hold the riding of Vancouver-Granville, which Ms. Wilson-Raybould won with about 44 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election.
The NDP and Conservatives finished with 27 per cent and 26 per cent, respectively, in the first election in the newly created riding.
On Thursday, the federal Liberals acknowledged the exits
“I want to thank all Liberal volunteers in Vancouver-Granville for their contributions to our party, and specifically the volunteers who have served on its local EDA executive,” Gabe Garfinkel, director of the federal Liberal Party in British Columbia, said in a statement.
Mr. Garfinkel said an EDA annual general meeting was due to be called this week in line with party bylaws, but it has now been scheduled for late June.
“A number of volunteers have already been putting their name forward with interest in serving on the incoming executive,” he said.
The Liberals have said they will nominate a candidate to replace Ms. Wilson-Raybould, the former attorney-general and justice minister, with prospects expected to come forward in the next few weeks.
While Ms. Marshall said she plans to work for Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s re-election bid, she said she is not in a position to speak for others.
Ms. Marshall also said she hasn’t yet quit the Liberal party, but expects that backing Ms. Wilson-Raybould is incompatible with membership in the party. Still, she said she supports general Liberal values.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould was not available for comment.
On Monday, Ms. Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, the former Treasury Board president, announced they would run as independents, ending weeks of speculation about their political plans.
Both resigned from cabinet earlier this year amid the fallout from the SNC-Lavalin affair and both were subsequently ousted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from the Liberal caucus.
after revelations in The Globe and Mail that Mr. Trudeau and top officials put pressure on Ms. Wilson-Raybould when she was attorney-general to abandon the bribery and fraud prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
In early April, both were ousted by Mr. Trudeau from the Liberal caucus. The Liberal Leader said their criticism of his role in the SNC-Lavalin affair had broken bonds of trust and helped the government’s political opponents.
The first-term MPs made co-ordinated announcements in their ridings. Ms. Wilson-Raybould was in Vancouver-Granville, while Ms. Philpott was in her Toronto-area riding of Markham-Stouffville.
Both women said they had several discussions with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and also spoke with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh about their political futures.
However, they said they concluded they would run as independents because they didn’t feel tied to any party, and thought it the best way to change the partisan culture in Ottawa.