Conservative commentator and advocate Aaron Gunn says the rejection of his application to run in the BC Liberals’ leadership contest goes against party members’ democratic rights to choose their own leader.
“It’s an affront to democracy,” Gunn told The Epoch Times, adding that the rejection is an example of elites “thinking that they know better than their own party’s membership.”
The BC Liberals informed Gunn by email on Oct. 22 that after its Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) conducted a “thorough review” of his statements made on social media, it concluded that his candidacy would be “inconsistent with the BC Liberal Party’s commitment to reconciliation, diversity, and acceptance.”
The email also said Gunn had been given “an opportunity to respond to concerns raised by certain of those statements.” Gunn, however, says that even though he responded a week later, he was rejected “without any further explanation.”
Gunn says the party added a new clause to its leadership rules, adopted by the LEOC in February, that candidates must not have the potential to damage the party’s reputation.
“To be eligible to become a Leadership Contestant, a person must … not be a person whose approval to become a Leadership Contestant would likely bring the Party into disrepute,” the rules say. “All Leadership Contestants must undertake in writing to the Party that they will … conduct themselves and their campaigns in a manner so as not to bring the Party into disrepute.”
Gunn said the new clause is subject to interpretation.
“That is obviously completely subjective. Unlike all the other clauses that are there, that is a subjective clause,” he said.
On Oct. 8, after the political outsider announced his intention to run for the party’s leadership, he received immediate flak from the ruling B.C. NDP, accusing him of expressing “harmful views” such as denying the existence of systemic racism.
A few days later, a rival in the leadership race, Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, took a similar position and sought to prevent Gunn from competing.
“Aaron Gunn has the right to express his views, but the BC Liberal Party has a responsibility to not give a platform to intolerant views like those he’s shared. I urge candidates to affirm inclusive values & join me in calling for his candidacy to be rejected,” Lee said on Twitter on Oct. 14.
In a string of tweets, Gunn said the reason party officials rejected him was that he “committed the ‘unforgivable sin’ of refusing to call Canada a genocidal state on 3 separate occasions over twitter,” referring to the view that Canada committed genocide against First Nations people.
“Oddly enough, I know from private conversations that many current BC Liberal MLAs agree with my position (along with the vast majority of conservatives and most historians),” he posted on Oct. 25.
“The real reason my candidacy was rejected was because I posed a serious and credible threat to the enclaves of political power currently held by political insiders.”
The Epoch Times reached out to the BC Liberal Party for comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.
‘Just the Beginning’
BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross, who is running in the leadership race and who has previously spoken out in defence of Gunn, said he was disappointed by the LEOC’s decision not to approve Gunn’s application.
“The decision as to his leadership should have been made by the voting members of the BC Liberal Party,” Ross said on Twitter on Oct. 22.
“This is not about whether or not I agree with all of Mr. Gunn’s views, but whether or not he should have been permitted to run.”
The MLA for Skeena added that “British Columbians have been clear that to earn their trust again, we must be a ‘big tent’ party that is inclusive of views and opinions from across the political spectrum.”
Gunn said the party isn’t accommodating a “big tent” of differing voices, particularly conservatives’ views and those who believe in “common sense and free speech.”
Described on his website as “an independent journalist and advocate for taxpayers and common sense,” Gunn has worked for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and is the producer and director of an online series called “Politics Explained.”
According to Gunn’s election platform, his “common sense” policies include scrapping the carbon tax, defending free speech, opposing cancel culture, and cracking down on crime and anarchy. He added that he is ready to engage in “frank and honest” discussions on issues plaguing B.C. concerning the rising cost of living, money laundering, and the opioid epidemic.
Gunn said he will announce his future plans in the next two weeks, and pledged to continue fighting for the rights of British Columbians.
“It’s time to look at alternatives, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” he said. “I think there’s no common sense anymore with our politicians and our political decision-making, so it’s time for a change and a new direction.”
With reporting by Noé Chartier.