Cat signed up as Liberal sparks call for tighter vetting
The revelation that a cat belonging to a Christy Clark organizer was signed up as a B.C. Liberal has stirred fears the party isn't adequately vetting thousands of new members who will help select the province's next premier.
Olympia the cat belongs to Kristy Wawryk, the Liberal riding association president for Delta South, who reportedly was unaware her pet was signed up as a prank.
The party has revoked the feline's $10 membership but leadership candidate George Abbott said the incident raises questions about the integrity of the system for signing up and validating members.
"While Ms. Clark's camp may consider this a joke, it is actually an example of outright fraud that must be explained," Abbott said.
"It underscores the fact that there are serious gaps in the party's ability to properly validate new members coming into the system, especially at a time when thousands of new members are joining our ranks."
Abbott had previously registered concern about weaknesses in the system.
Auditors only check a small sample of members and they use "easy-to-defeat" methods like phone call confirmations and sending letters to addresses, he said.
"If an individual were intent on submitting fraudulent memberships, there would be very little in this verification process that would prevent him or her from succeeding," Abbott said.
"This example today may very well be the tip of the iceberg," he said, adding it's not good enough for the party headquarters to simply delete the names and move on.
"We cannot accept a system so weak that it can't even keep felines off our rolls let alone felons."
Friday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for new memberships ahead of the Feb. 26 vote for a new B.C. Liberal leader.
At least 35,000 new memberships are expected to have arrived although the final number could be more than that if the claims of leadership contenders are accurate.
Kevin Falcon said Friday his team has signed up 17,000 and Mike de Jong claimed responsibility for another 10,000.