Out-of-court settlement sought in BC Tory infighting

Lawsuit over party purge has been adjourned, talks underway

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins

A lawsuit by three ousted BC Conservative party dissidents against the party has been put on hold while the two sides try to resolve their differences out of court.

Court records show the matter was adjourned generally following a Dec. 7 appearance in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. Under court rules, the lawsuit can be reinstated if no agreement is reached.

On Sunday, one of three dissidents, Ariane Eckardt, former president of the Burnaby North constituency association, said they were close to a settlement with the party in early December, about the time the adjournment was made, but talks have since bogged down.

“They keep sending us counter-proposals,” Eckardt told Peace Arch News Sunday. “It’s ridiculous that it has taken this long.”

Dr. Allison Patton, former president of the Surrey-White Rock consituency association, said Monday that it appears no further progress has been made in negotiations.

“It seems, at this stage, it will ultimately be resolved by the courts,” Patton said.

A Conservative party representative declined a request for comment Monday. When the lawsuit was filed last month, BC Conservative party president Al Siebring said he would not make a statement because the matter was before the courts.

Eckhart, Patton and John Crocock, a Burnaby businessman who unsuccessfully campaigned for party vice-president were ejected for publicly calling on Cummins to step down.

In written arguments, their lawyer said the decision to revoke their memberships was made without a proper disciplinary hearing and thus should should be declared void and they should be reinstated.

Crocock’s membership was revoked by the party board of directors on Sept. 22, the day of the general meeting, while Eckardt and Patton were ousted on Oct. 15.

– with files from Alex Browne

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