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VANCOUVER — A judge was expected to deliver her decision today on a petition that asks the British Columbia Supreme Court to delay the release of results from the B.C. Liberal party’s leadership vote.

Justice Heather MacNaughton heard arguments Friday from lawyers for the Liberals and longtime party member Vikram Bajwa, who asked the court for an order delaying the release of results by 15 days over concerns about the party’s recent audit of new members it signed up during the leadership contest.

Voting began Thursday and the results were scheduled to be released today, hours after MacNaughton’s decision.

Bajwa’s lawyer, Greg Allen, told the court the party has an obligation to his client to ensure that no invalid members are allowed to cast a ballot, which could effectively disenfranchise members who are in good standing.

Andrew Nathanson, a lawyer for the party, said Bajwa had not provided substantial evidence to support his concerns of voter irregularities, and the party’s own evidence showed reasonable steps were taken to ensure voter eligibility.

Bajwa’s petition also asked the court for an order that would force the party to provide details of its audit of new memberships and to reveal its conclusions on whether any co-ordinated voter fraud took place in the leadership race.

Nathanson said the party’s rules give the leadership election organizing committee discretion over whether to release details of the audit.

The party gained more than 20,000 members during the leadership process for a total of about 43,000, who may vote online or by phone for a new leader to replace Andrew Wilkinson after his resignation following the party’s 2020 election defeat.

The seven leadership candidates are legislature members Michael Lee, Ellis Ross and Renee Merrifield; business leaders Gavin Dew, Val Litwin and Stan Sipos; and Kevin Falcon, a former B.C. cabinet minister.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2022. 

The Canadian Press

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