JONESIE: The knives are out for Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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JONESIE: The knives are out for Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran

June 11, 2021 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran seemed pretty pleased with himself for raising $31,000 for his re-election campaign one and two years before he was even re-elected in 2018.

Since his first mayoral election campaign, he and his team collected so much money they’d make the B.C. Liberals blush. His received and spent more than $150,000 in his campaigns in 2014 and 2018 — not including the $31,000.

Basran was caught off-guard when the Kelowna Daily Courier broke the story in May that Basran’s campaign skirted Elections B.C. rules by not declaring pre-election campaign contributions, which he estimated was $20,000. He quickly filed disclosure forms which showed it was actually $31,000.

He wasn’t exactly contrite about the issue.

"I believe I have raised the bar when it comes to campaigning in civic elections in Kelowna, and that's not something I'll apologize for," he told Ron Seymour of the Kelowna Daily Courier.

If Basran is so pleased about pre-election campaigns, he’ll be thrilled to know his enemies are starting early as well for the 2022 campaign.

I was given a brown paper package recently containing a whole host of allegations about the mayor. I agreed I wouldn’t identify the person who passed it to me and that person made it clear they didn’t create it and wouldn’t tell me who did.

Inside is about 50 photocopied sheets of news of his campaign issues, reactions from the public, questions about his decision to get vaccinated well before his age cohort, and a host of new allegations including his personal lifestyle.

It’s detailed with partially redacted emails from Basran’s campaign team to donors and potential donors, partially redacted cheques from donors and email correspondence to Elections B.C.

It questions whether all the money collected from 2016 and 2017 — including an Oct. 19, 2017 campaign event at BNA (Basran’s favourite watering hole) attended by 75 to 100 people and another at the Curious Café Nov. 9, 2016, largely attended by about 30 developers in town, many of whom contributed — was all accounted for.

It makes a pretty good case that plenty of expenses and money raised may still remain unaccounted for and questions how a guy who can’t even follow election rules can “be expected to handle larger budgets in the millions."

The package looks sophisticated. Care was taken to ensure anonymity of emails, cheques and correspondence. It was also clear this package wasn’t created specifically for me or anyone in the media. I suspect other copies of this are being passed around as well, though my source hasn’t confirmed that.

But what should really send shivers down the mayor's spine is that this effort is being pushed by his own supporters — now former supporters — people who voted for him and put money behind him. Now they're out to get him.

To this point, it appeared builder Les Bellamy was the lone voice among former supporters who has turned on the mayor. He was the one who alerted the Daily Courier about the issue when he noticed his campaign contribution was unaccounted for. He said he knew of one other example. But this package makes it obvious he has plenty of company.

They’re trying to find every donor to Basran’s pre-election solicitations so they can do their own audit and accounting of Basran’s campaign books, suspecting there’s a lot more money involved. They note his financial agent appeared to change during this time and two separate bank accounts cheques were written to. Whether any of it is true or not likely depends on whether they can find all the other donors and expenses.

And Basran isn’t helping his own cause.

When iNFOnews.ca asked him how that $31,000 was spent, he hid behind the legislation which doesn’t require that disclosure.

Then he texted this to reporter Rob Munro (it wasn't some off-the-cuff remark):

"I will reiterate that the funds raised were spent on managing social media communication strategies of all the important work my council colleagues and I did during our term to benefit our community.”

I have it on good authority that some of his council colleagues are not at all impressed by what appears to be an attempt to share the weight of this scandal with them.

Basran is proud that he has raised the bar in election campaigns and won’t apologize for that. Surely he won’t mind that his enemies are close behind him now.

Will Basran run again? Unless he has eyes on a higher office, I’d bet he will. The real question is who will oppose him?

If you have any more information about any of this, feel free to send me an email.

— Marshall Jones is the Managing Editor of iNFOnews.ca


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