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Kelowna's new political slate is right-wing — but how right wing?

Former RCMP Cpl. Chris Williams is running for a seat on Kelowna council.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Chris Williams

A new political organization is running two candidates for Kelowna council but what the newly formed Spirit Alliance is all about isn't easy to know.

Former RCMP Corporal Chris Williams is running for a Kelowna council seat as part of the unknown political organization, Spirit Alliance.

The 49-year-old describes the organization as "a party that represents the average joe" with conservative values, and being "a little bit right of centre."

How right of centre is hard to tell.

Although the election officially started more than 10 days ago, Spirit Alliance's website still isn't up and running and a call to Spirit Alliance's head Mitchell Berard wasn't returned. 

Spirit Alliance is also running Sacheen Collecutt as a candidate but she didn't return our calls by deadline and instead requested an interview by email.

"Spirit Alliance is about coming together and collaborating and not having divisiveness. Everybody is entitled to a view, everybody's views are important no matter what side of the spectrum they come from," Williams said.

Williams said city hall is inhibited by red tape and bureaucracy and he wants to get it back to a grassroots approach. 

He believes Kelowna needs a solid infrastructure plan and that council could do more to lobby the province to take land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve in an effort to fight the affordable housing crisis.

"I think the answer is to get all stakeholders to sit down together and possibly form task forces, that's what I would advocate for, and come up with...short and long term goals."

As a former RCMP officer he's critical about how the police in Kelowna are run.

While Williams is clear on issues like homelessness and the opioid crisis – he supports housing first and a safe supply of opioids given to addicts followed by support to keep addicts clean – he's far more cagey on other subjects such as the anti-vaccination movement.

After saying we needed "more transparency in the community" he evaded questions about his stance on vaccinations and whether he was vaccinated.

While vaccination isn't a prerequisite for election, it's a question every elected official faced and it's likely important to voters and an indication of a candidate's political persuasion.

"That's a personal question that I don't think is relevant at all," he said.

When it came to deeper issues about the anti-vaccination movement he refused to answer.

In a following phone call, he said that in regards to his vaccination status this reporter should "tread very carefully." 

He then refused to elaborate on what "tread very carefully" meant and hung up.

Williams said he was not part of the anti-vaccination movement but said he's been to protests in Kelowna albeit not as a regular. He also said he supported the so-called truckers' convoy in Ottawa.

"I have no issue with people lawfully (protesting)," he said.

So is the Spirit Alliance a thinly disguised right-wing anti-vax organization?

Williams also said it was "offensive" to ask such a question.

But outside of the spin of being a grassroots right-of-centre political organization, it's hard to pin down what the Spirit Alliance actually stands for.

While Williams said he supported the Ottawa convoy's right to protest under the Charter of Rights, his own record with the Charter isn't so rosy.

In 2017, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marsha Devlin called Williams' behaviour in a police interview "aggressive, intimidating and unprofessional."

The interview involved the high-profile case of Donald Brodie who was driving a car that almost killed a pedestrian in 2013.

Williams' Charter breaches during the interview led to the judge striking it and a subsequent interview from evidence, although Brodie was later convicted.

In 2016, Williams was also charged with assault for an incident that took place during an arrest in May 2015.

The case made its way to B.C. Supreme Court but the charge was then stayed by Crown prosecutors.

Williams said he's currently retired after he was forcefully retired from the RCMP and is fighting his case through the Federal courts.

READ MORE: Mysterious slate of right-wing school board candidates on Vernon, Kelowna ballots

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

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