The campaign manager for Dan Brooks, the Vanderhoof hunting guide elected the B.C. Conservative Party leader in 2014, was behind a dirty tricks campaign to undermine his only opponent.
Rick Peterson sued now ex-leader Brooks and campaign manager Barry Sikora for defamation. A trial slated for early May was settled out of court.
Peterson emailed his supporters on June 24, with a copy of Sikora’s written apology for mailing the anonymous smear letters against venture capitalist Peterson’s business and political activities.
Not only was Sikora the Brooks campaign manager, but his Classic Impressions company was contracted by the party to send ballots to members. Therefore, Sikora had the membership contact list.
“The letter contained misleading statements about your professional and political activities,” Sikora wrote. “I regret my actions and want to apologize to you, to your family, to your business associates and to the BC Conservative Party for the harm and hurt I may have caused.”
At the April 2014 convention in Richmond, the party counted 721 votes for Brooks and 440 for Peterson. Only 28% of the party’s 4,100 members voted in the mail-in election, meaning Brooks had less than 20% support across the party. .
“It took four years to bring this to closure, but the effort and expense (Sikora’s cheque to me falls far short of covering four years’ of legal expenses I’ve incurred) that went into it were, in my view, worth it,” Peterson wrote. “It’s hard enough to attract good people into public service, so when something like this happens, it’s important to send out a clear message that candidates in any race deserve to be treated with respect.”
Peterson said he also received an apology from Brooks, who regretted not speaking out against the smear campaign. Brooks, twice-elected, but twice-resigned, maintained his innocence, however.
In 2017, the leaderless BC Conservatives ran candidates in 10 ridings and attracted just over 10,000 votes province-wide. Vernon city councillor Scott Anderson was elected interim party leader last fall.
Peterson unsuccessfully ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada in 2017.
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