The Non-Partisan Association’s failure to meet an Elections BC deadline for filing financial documents from the 2018 civic election campaign is not connected to the ouster of its president Gregory Baker.
That is the position of both Baker and the party’s new president, Mark Angus, who framed the timing of the change in leadership as more coincidental than a consequence of the NPA missing the Jan. 18 deadline to disclose how much it raised and spent.
“I don’t think missing that filing really has anything to do with it,” Baker told the Courier. “I don’t understand what, perhaps, what was going through [board members’] minds at the time. But there were people that felt it was time for a change.”
Angus, an independent businessman involved in the film industry, said the party’s board of directors simply decided to have “a fresh set of eyes” going into this year. He pointed out Baker remains a member of the board.
Baker said the vote to replace him occurred at an NPA board meeting in February. It came about three weeks after Elections BC issued a news release Feb. 5 saying the party’s main campaign, school board campaign and the campaign of mayoral candidate Ken Sim failed to meet the Jan. 18 deadline.
The party eventually met a second deadline Feb. 19 but not before being penalized with $3,000 fines. Half of those fines were levied on the campaigns of council candidate Sarah Kirby-Yung, park board candidate John Coupar and school board candidate Chris Qiu.
The trio failed to meet the Jan. 18 deadline but had filed their documents prior to Elections BC issuing the Feb. 5 news release to announce which parties and candidates missed deadline. The NPA was the only Vancouver party to not meet the deadline.
Baker and Angus cited the sheer number of donors—in the 4,000 range—and having just Baker and another person working on the filings as reasons the party missed the first deadline. Angus said it won’t happen again.
“It was unfortunate,” he said, emphasizing the late filings were not connected to him replacing Baker as president. “I’m not going to reiterate what Greg said, but we had a lot of paperwork. There was lots of stuff to do. No one ever gets paid. Your financial agent is a volunteer, they have other jobs.”
But Angus, who lives in Mount Pleasant, said he wanted the party to become “more relevant” to voters between elections and “make the NPA more than just something that appears eight months before an election.”
He also suggested the party may want to look at choosing its candidates, including a mayoral candidate, earlier in an election campaign.
”We always seem to be late, and that doesn’t help,” he said.
In the 2018 election, the NPA elected five city councillors, three school trustees and two park board commissioners. The party raised and spent roughly $1 million, according to its disclosure statements, courtesy of more than 4,000 donors, many of whom gave the $1,200 maximum.
The party has not scheduled a date for its annual general meeting. Under the NPA’s rules, the president must resign at the meeting in order for another vote to take place. Elections are staggered for board members, meaning some will be up for re-election, some won't.
Baker, the owner and operator of PC Galore computer store, said it was too early to say whether he would be interested in another run as president.
His work with the party, he said, has required a lot of his time. He was a council candidate in the 2014 election and served as treasurer.
“I’m disappointed, I suppose, but part of me is kind of relieved,” he said of being replaced by Angus. “You know what—the weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m able to concentrate on my business, which has suffered considerably. This past year—in 2018—I’ve spent virtually no time at my business.”
The next election is not until October 2022.
Note: This story has been updated since first posted.