VANCOUVER — A longtime Liberal party executive has resigned over what he calls an "unfathomable" move to block a two-time former candidate from running in British Columbia.
Mike Hillman stepped down as membership chairman for B.C. after the party decision, announced late last week, to block Wendy Yuan from running as a Liberal candidate in the new riding of Steveston-Richmond East.
Hillman was Yuan's campaign manager.
He said he can't understand how the party could treat someone with such disregard, especially after Yuan's work to register thousands of new party members.
"You don't keep somebody on a string, working hard to build a team and build membership, when in the end you're going to walk away from them," he said in an interview on Wednesday. "That's not the right way to do it."
Yuan signed up close to 3,000 new members — a significant portion of the roughly 4,000 registered in the riding, said Hillman.
He called Yuan "absolutely solid" and referred to her contributions to the party as "tremendous."
Hillman said he didn't know why Yuan was disqualified as a candidate.
Instead, lawyer and former federal politician Joe Peschisolido will be running in the riding for the Liberals. He was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate at a nomination meeting on Tuesday.
"As membership chair there is a responsibility on my part to protect and promote the interests of membership and members rights," Hillman said.
Yuan has run for the Liberals in Vancouver in the past two federal elections, but came up short both times against the NDP.
Hillman has been involved with the Liberals for nearly five decades and has served in various leadership capacities, including two terms as the party's national vice-president for English.
He is still a party member and will remain involved in Liberal election campaigns in other ridings.
The president of the party's B.C. chapter said the Liberals value Hillman's service and contributions to the democratic process.
"British Columbia has an exceptional team of candidates running to bring real change in Ottawa," said Braeden Caley in an email.
"I have full trust in the rigorous green-light process that has included all aspiring candidates."
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