The name of David Eby’s challenger for the NDP leadership does not appear on the guest list for his swearing-in as Premier.
Eby took the oath of office Nov. 18 from Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin at the Musqueam Indian Band’s Community Centre, instead of Government House, as a symbol of reconciliation.
The former Attorney General became the successor to John Horgan by default after the ruling party’s board agreed Oct. 19 with former NDP finance minister Elizabeth Cull’s recommendation to disqualify environmental activist Anjali Appadurai.
Appadurai may have had enough support to win the leadership, but Cull found evidence of fraudulent memberships and collusion with environmental charities Dogwood Initiative and 350 Canada. Despite Cull’s decision, Appadurai said she wouldn’t rip up her membership and urged her followers to stay in the party.
According to the guest list, obtained under freedom of information, Cull was invited, but Appadurai was not.
Eby didn’t mention Appadurai in his togetherness-themed inaugural speech, but one of his two warm-up speakers did.
“He has reached out to other levels of government and also invited Anjali Appadurai and her supporters to work with him,” said Shirley Chan.
When Horgan and his cabinet were sworn-in July 18, 2017 at Government House, environmental activist Tzeporah Berman was invited. She was not on Eby’s invite list. She was in Egypt during November’s annual United Nations climate change summit.
Eby did, however, invite Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith.
“Not attending” was under the names of both former Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver/NDP backer Joel Solomon. Robertson’s former chief of staff Mike Magee and wife/Convergence Strategies partner Suzanne Hawkes were on the attendance list.
A who’s who of B.C.’s labour movement, Lower Mainland mayors, heads of chambers of commerce, and leaders of First Nations groups were seated throughout the venue. Vancouver International Airport Authority CEO Tamara Vrooman was the biggest name in B.C. business circles.
In his speech, Horgan mentioned former NDP premiers Glen Clark and Mike Harcourt in attendance. Under ex-NDP Premier Ujjal Dosanjh’s name was “no response.” Dan Miller, who was Horgan’s mentor and B.C. premier for six months in 1999-2000, was not on the list.
Former NDP leader Joy MacPhail, who now chairs BC Ferries and the Squamish Nation’s Nch’kay Development Corp., acted as master of ceremonies. Moe Sihota and Darlene Marzari were other 1990s NDP cabinet ministers invited. There was no response from Bob Williams, a member of the late Dave Barrett’s cabinet and a deputy minister in Harcourt’s government.
Horgan’s chief of staff Geoff Meggs and his replacement under Eby, Matt Smith, were both there. Meggs left office with a $339,784 severance, nearly double the $182,291 for deputy chief of staff Amber Hockin. Hockin was invited, but did not attend.
Other party insiders included provincial director Heather Stoutenberg, Eby’s campaign financial agent Marcel LeHoullier, new Premier’s office counsel Craig Jones, NDP ad agency Now Communications co-founder Ron Johnson and strategic director Emily-Anne Paul, and development consultant Gary Pooni.
In a nod to Eby’s roots as a Downtown Eastside activist lawyer, Wendy Pedersen from the DTES SRO Collective was invited.
Mexico’s Consul General, Berenice Diaz Ceballos Parada, represented foreign government missions in the province as the Dean of the B.C. Consular Corps. In 2017, at Horgan’s swearing-in, People’s Republic of China Consul General Liu Fei had that role.
Omni TV commentator Ding Guo was on both the Horgan and Eby guest lists, but Eby’s guest list differed substantially from Horgan’s in one aspect. The new premier did not invite the heads of pro-Beijing business and cultural groups like the Canadian Alliance of Chinese Associations, Canadian Community Service Association and Chinese Benevolent Association.
Prominent Surrey NDP supporters like trucking company owner Kulwant Dhesi and power broker Prem Vinning were invited, just like in 2017.
The production notes for Eby’s swearing-in said there were 529 people invited, of which 352 said they would attend, 58 would not and 89 did not respond. The crowd included 30 Musqueam youth and elders. Chief Wayne Sparrow gave the welcoming speech.
For Horgan’s July 2017 swearing-in, 674 invitations were sent for 790 people; 607 said they would attend, 133 did not respond and 91 gave regrets.
Eby’s ceremony was budgeted at $24,173.19, but came in at $9,805.80, according to Nov. 28 preliminary figures. Production costs were shared with Government Communications and Public Engagement. The biggest hospitality cost was $5,725.50 for reception catering by Salishan Catering. Eby held a separate ceremony to swear-in cabinet on Dec. 7 at Government House. That invite list and costs have yet to be released.
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