Blazers signed up as Liberals - without their knowledge
Kamloops Blazers players were signed up to B.C. Liberal Party memberships by a supporter of leadership candidate Kevin Falcon.
The problem is, none of the players were aware of their membership in the party.
"We learned yesterday (Feb. 7) that one of our supporters had signed up several members of the Kamloops Blazers hockey team as members of the B.C. Liberal Party without their knowledge," Falcon's campaign manager Norman Stowe said.
"On learning the details, we immediately contacted party headquarters to advise them. We told them we believe these memberships are not valid and should be removed from the party membership list."
Stowe told KTW someone in the Blazers' organization signed up the players, though he did not know if the memberships were accompanied by the $5 youth membership fee.
Tom Gaglardi, majority owner of the Western Hockey League club, is a supporter of Falcon's leadership bid.
Stowe said the Falcon campaign learned of the dubious sign-ups when someone in Kamloops contacted the campaign.
"I'm only guessing, but it could have been the whole team," Stowe said when asked how many players had been made instant Grits.
He said the supporter who submitted the Blazers as members "probably thought they were helping the cause," noting the Falcon campaign disclosed the memberships immediately to ensure its membership list is as "clean as possible."
When asked why players would be signed up without their knowledge when the reason for recruiting new members is to have them vote in the Feb. 26 party leadership election, Stowe replied: "I assume at some point they would have to talk to the players and tell them they had, in fact, been signed up."
For their part, the Kamloops Blazers issued a statement from vice-president and general manager Craig Bonner, which reads in full:
“I have been informed that applications for membership to the B.C. Liberal Party by our players were handled incorrectly. I take full responsibility for this communication error and have asked the B.C. Liberal Party to withdraw the subject applications for membership.
"I always encourage our players to be active in their communities. I view the opportunity for every British Columbian 14 years or older to vote for the next premier of our province as a positive for all in our organization, including our players. I regret the error with the subject applications.”
KTW called the club to further question the role the team had in the membership drive, including who it was that signed up the players, but was told there would be no further comment.
KTW has since emailed questions to the Blazers' media-relations department and will update this story as warranted.