An NDP leadership candidate and supporter under internal investigation for alleged vote buying are also active in Vancouver’s OneCity party.
Atiya Jaffar volunteered to pay membership fees for prospective leadership election voters while on an Instagram live event hosted by NDP leadership candidate Anjali Appadurai.
“It’s a handful of people that get to decide who our next premier is,” Jaffar told viewers. “Message me if you need the $10, because I’m happy to provide that for you.”
Section 255 of the Election Act states that an individual or organization must not give, pay, lend or induce an individual to vote for or against a particular candidate. Sept. 4 was the deadline to sign-up new members to decide whether Appadurai or frontrunner David Eby should replace the returning John Horgan as premier later this fall.
Appadurai and Jaffar both signed the nomination papers for OneCity city council candidate Iona Bonamis, who works for Vancouver city hall as a transportation planner.
The campaign director for OneCity admits both have also had a role in the OneCity campaign, but only Appadurai is a member of the party.
“Neither has a paid role on the campaign,” said Alex McGowan. “In recent months, both have joined us, alongside many other volunteers, for canvassing and mainstreeting events to speak to voters. However, as far as I know, Ms. Appadurai has not volunteered with us since the beginning of her campaign.”
Bonamis is one of 10 city council candidates in the Oct. 15 civic election, including four from OneCity, who were endorsed by the Vancouver and District Labour Council’s political action committee.
In 2018, Christine Boyle was the only OneCity candidate elected to city council.
Jaffar has not responded for comment.
Jaffar is the senior digital specialist at 350.org, a U.S.-based environmental charity that organizes anti-oil and gas pipeline protests. Jaffar was integral in the Shut Down Canada campaign in the first quarter of 2020, when she used social media platforms to promote illegal blockades at the Port of Vancouver, Deltaport, the Granville Bridge and on CP Rail tracks in East Vancouver. She was also involved in the 2020 sit-in at Eby’s Point Grey riding office.
Appadurai entered the leadership contest Aug. 10 after saying that she raised the $40,000 entry fee in a matter of minutes during an online event with supporters. The registered lobbyist with the David Suzuki Institute ran for the federal NDP and narrowly lost to Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed in the Vancouver Granville riding during the 2021 federal election.
Previous vote-buying scandals in NDP and BC Liberal leadership races have not resulted in disqualifications.
In 2011, Vancouver Kensington NDP MLA Mable Elmore was caught on video stapling $10 bills to membership forms sold by the campaign of eventual victor Adrian Dix. Earlier this year, opponents of Kevin Falcon alleged the eventual BC Liberal leadership winner was providing prepaid debit cards to pay for new memberships.
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