DIRTY POLITICS: Liberal fracas in Abbotsford South gets election season off and running

It would appear Deputy Premier Rich Coleman made the same promise to two different Abbotsford South riding candidates. Gerry Kahrmann/PNG files

MICHAEL SMYTH
VANCOUVER DESI

Darryl Plecas got a golden parachute into politics — and immediately dropped into the middle of a bizarre snake pit.

The outspoken criminologist will be acclaimed Thursday, Nov. 22, as the Liberals’ new star candidate in Abbotsford South, the riding held by hellraising ex-Liberal John van Dongen.

But rather than embracing Plecas as a saviour, Abbotsford Liberals are up in arms. The entire executive of the Abbotsford South riding association has quit in protest.

“The party brass cooked this up in the backrooms and forced it down our throats,” said Stephen Evans, who quit as the Liberal riding president along with five other local party executives. Evans and the others wanted Abbotsford city Coun. Moe Gill to be the candidate. Gill said he organized for three years to take a run at the Liberal nomination, and figured he had it in the bag.

“(Deputy Premier) Rich Coleman even came to my house and told me and my wife that I’d be the candidate,” Gill claimed Wednesday. “Instead, I feel like the Liberal Party dug a trench, threw me in and dumped a pile of manure on me.”

Plecas says Coleman dangled the nomination in front of him, too. The University of the Fraser Valley professor said Coleman broached the subject during an unrelated meeting last summer. “He said, ‘Why don’t you run for us?’ And I said, ‘When hell freezes over!’ So he asked me to think about it.”

Plecas said the party kept up the pressure, eventually telling him about three weeks ago he would receive the nomination by acclamation.

Gill, meanwhile, said he was asked to a meeting with a party official at Abbotsford’s Cactus Club restaurant, where he was told he wouldn’t be the candidate.

“I said, ‘Don’t do this to me’ and they said, ‘Too bad, you’re not accepted.’”

Gill said he was then “bullied” into signing a statement that he would instead seek the Liberal nomination in neighbouring Abbotsford-Mission.

“I was desperate, so I signed,” Gill said. “But I have no support in Abbotsford-Mission. I’m finished. This party just took me out, they destroyed me.”

Evans said he thinks Coleman favoured Plecas because they’re related. “That’s a stretch,” Plecas fires back. “Rich Coleman’s son is married to my niece. Moe Gill actually knows Rich Coleman better than I do.”

Plecas said he intends to accept the gift-wrapped Liberal nomination tonight, while Gill and his gang now plot to defeat him.

“We will have our revenge,” said Evans, adding that might even include throwing their support to van Dongen, who’s seeking re-election as an Independent.

Got all that straight, folks? With the election now less than six months away, the silly season has only just begun.





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