CANNABIS CULTURE – Pot activist-turned-politician Dana Larsen, who threw his hat into the ring for the BC NDP Leadership this week, has accepted an apology from party President Moe Sihota for claiming he was ineligible to run.
“I’d like to thank Party President Moe Sihota for calling me and apologizing for his recent statements to the media,” Larsen said in a statement released today.
In a recent phone call, Sihota agreed he was wrong to say Dana Larsen was “ineligible” to run for the leadership.
First, Moe Sihota conceded that Larsen is currently a BC NDP member in good standing.
“Moe agreed that my most recent donation to the party was in November 2010, paid by credit card,” Larsen said. According to the BC NDP Constitution: “An individual member shall be in good standing for twelve months from the date of his/her last donation to the Party.
“Moe also agreed that my donation had been incorrectly processed by head office, and that this was more of a clerical error than a serious problem. And he also accepted that his comment was irrelevant, as under our party’s Constitution, even if someone was not currently a BC NDP member, that person would have until mid-January to join the party and still be eligible to run for leader.”
Second, Sihota agreed that he was factually incorrect when he told the media that Larsen “was deemed to be ineligible to run federally.”
Larsen was accepted as an NDP candidate in the 2008 federal election, and chose to resign of his own accord.
“I chose to step down as a candidate so as not to be a distraction to Jack Layton’s federal campaign,” Larsen said. “I took one for the team, but I was never deemed ineligible to run as a candidate. I’m glad Moe has agreed that he misunderstood what had actually happened at that time.”
“I am a longstanding, loyal and active member of the New Democratic Party, and my membership is up to date,” added Larsen. “I am glad that Moe Sihota has acknowledged that I am as eligible to run for the Leadership as any other member of our party.”
“I would also like to thank Mike Farnworth for coming out in support of my democratic right to run for the leadership,” concluded Larsen. “I appreciate his fair-minded comments to the press.”
BC civil rights lawyer and NDP member Kirk Tousaw explained that the BC NDP Constitution does not allow the Executive to ban a party member from running for Leader.
“The Party Constitution only states that candidates for positions like MP or MLA must be approved by the Executive. But candidates for the party leadership do not require the approval of the executive,” Tousaw said. “The Constitution only gives the executive the power to create ‘regulations’ for leadership candidates, such as the entry fee, the maximum amount a candidate can spend during their campaign, and so on. The executive does not have the power to bar members from running simply because they disagree with a candidate’s priorities or lifestyle. I have never heard of a BC NDP member being barred from running for Leader.”