Bill Clarke meets Franz Kafka: Vancouver campaign chair

Bill Clarke. Photo: courtesy of BC Conservative Party

Bill Clarke. Photo: courtesy of BC Conservative Party

*** updated with Elections BC reply***

As the BC provincial elections are only a day away, one of Quilchena’s candidates will go to bed tonight with a form of not-so-mild chagrin.

Dear readers, I am currently traveling in Europe, but I received an email in my inbox I wanted to share with you. I already mentioned in my profile of BC Conservative candidate Bill Clarke that he and his team were planning legal actions against Elections BC, as a clerical error resulted in Clarke’s name to appear on the ballot.

It looks like their fight was tilting at windmills. Don Main, communications manager of Elections BC, confirmed:
“The BC Conservative party did not include Bill Clarke’s name on the List of Candidate Endorsements submitted to Elections BC by the close of nominations.  His name will be on the ballot with no party affiliation.”

Below is a reproduction of the letter by Rick Peterson, campaign manager, about his view on the situation.

Meanwhile, I wish all Quilchena residents and candidates a fair and well-attended election day.

Katja De Bock 

The BC Conservative affiliation is absent from Bill Clarke’s name on the Vancouver-Quilchena ballots. Here’s an op-ed piece I wrote explaining how this came about:

Bill Clarke meets Franz Kafka

On Thursday, April 25th at 3:00 pm, Bill Clarke was feeling on top of the world.

He had just walked out of the Elections BC regional office on Arbutus Street and into the spring sunshine, thinking he had just been confirmed as a BC Conservative candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena in the May 14th provincial election.

A little more than 48 hours later he learned that wasn’t the case. His world had been turned into something that might resemble a novel by Franz Kafka, the celebrated, early 20th century German-language writer whose works often depict surreal, hopeless and senseless situations.

Let’s quickly retrace Bill Clarke’s Kafkaesque journey:

On Friday, April 19th, this 79-year-old retired CA and former Progressive Conservative MP for Vancouver Quadra decides to take the plunge and run in the May 14th provincial election as a BC Conservative Party candidate in the West Side riding of Vancouver-Quilchena.

On Sunday, April 21st he meets with his campaign team. They quickly set into motion a whirlwind of activity to meet the 1:00 pm, Friday, April 26th Elections BC deadline to become an official candidate. They have five days to do what most candidates take three weeks or more to accomplish.

He fills out a complete BC Conservative 45-page questionnaire that delves deeply into his financial, political, business and public background.  Less than 24-hours later the Party confirms his candidacy.

He then downloads from Elections BC everything else he needs: Form 320, Nomination Booklet; Form 321, Appointment of Auditor; Form 325, Appointment of Financial Agent; Statement of Disclosure; and notice of the requirement for a $250 nomination deposit.

He completes all these papers, clearly indicating where required (point 5, page 5, Form 320) that he is running as a BC Conservative. He also attaches four pages of original signatures from 92 residents of Vancouver Quilchena – more than the 75 required, just to be sure – who endorse the fact that he will be a candidate in their riding, knowing he is running as a BC Conservative.  Mr. Clarke and his team had raced around the riding in a three-day mad dash to collect those signatures – no small feat at all, and the toughest part of the nomination process.

He then takes all these papers, signatures, forms and money order and attaches with them the ultimate seal of Party approval: Elections BC Form 324A – Endorsement of Candidate By A Registered Political Party, which indicates by the signatures of the Party president and Party Secretary, that the BC Conservative Party clearly endorses Mr. Clarke as their candidate. Done – everything is checked. Elections BC has in their hands a document signed by the top two BC Conservative Party officials endorsing Mr. Clarke’s candidacy.

At 2:00 on Thursday, April 25th Mr. Clarke meets with Elections BC’ s District Electoral Officer in Quilchena. Every page is examined carefully. Every box checked off. Money is exchanged. Receipts issued. Papers are stamped. Signatures verified. All is in order, fully completed. Elections BC regional office in Quilchena has papers from Mr. Clarke and from the BC Conservative Party both stating that he will be running as a BC Conservative.

He is asked to come back the next day, Friday morning, April 26th and pick up his official Elections BC Certificate of Candidacy, which he does.

All that is required, as he leaves the Elections BC office on Thursday April 25th, well before the 1:00 deadline the next day, is a mere formality.  The BC Conservative Party simply has to notify Elections BC, one more time, that Mr. Clarke is officially one of their candidates.

What the Party has to do, is take another a copy of Form 324A – Endorsement of a Candidate By Registered Political Party – that Mr. Clarke already included in his application package, and attach to it a new Schedule showing all of the BC Conservative candidates in the province. In effect, this Schedule is a second, “collective” endorsement of all the individual endorsements the Party has already given each one of its own candidates and which has already been filed with Elections BC…

We know what happened. This additional Schedule, in its complete and correct version with all 60 BC Conservative candidates, arrived mere minutes too late, due to a minor clerical error in BC Conservative Party headquarters.  An earlier version had been filed on time with 56 candidates on the schedule.  The correct version, with the names of Mr. Clarke as well as three other BC Conservative candidates, was not allowed. The law is the law.

So, as a result, Bill Clarke, Christine Clarke, Wayne Marklund and Mike Pratas  will see their names appear unaffiliated with the BC Conservative Party on the May 14th ballots.

Yes, someone in the BC Conservative Party office made an administrative error under deadline pressure. In the scheme of things – especially in the wake of “ethnic outreach” initiatives, “robocalls”, “parachute candidates” and other party-produced hijinks –  it was really not a big one . In the real world, in a non-Kafkaesque world, it shouldn’t make a difference.

But it does to Elections BC. Which might give you a hint what they’re reading on lunch breaks over in Victoria.

Rick Peterson

Vancouver Campaign Chair

BC Conservatives

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