Brampton MPP quits NDP after new information revealed in nomination controversy

The first Black MPP in Peel Region has remove the NDP amid claims the party sandbagged him in a contested nomination race for the June 2 provincial election.

Kevin Yarde (Brampton North) said Friday he would sit as an Independent after learning local New Democrats had closed party membership sales before he knew he was facing an internal challenge that he subsequently lost.

The former TV weatherman told the Star he was not informed by the party there was a challenger for the nomination until March 17 — nine days after the March 8 deadline for signing up new members eligible to vote in the contest.

“It was way too late to sign up additional people,” Yarde said in an interview Friday. “There’s nothing you can do.”

The race and the right to run for the party on June 2 was won by challenger Sandeep Singh on April 7 after three days of online voting, with the result leaving the party’s Black caucus furious and several members sounding alarm bells on social media.

“If we are a team, then we support and lift each other up. If we don’t, there’s a deep systemic and structural problem,” New Democrat MPP Rima Berns-McGown (Beaches—East York) tweeted at the time.

Yarde said Friday he decided to leave the NDP “on principle” with less than two weeks until the provincial campaign officially begins and has not yet determined if he will run as an Independent — a move that could siphon support from the New Democrats in the riding he won by fewer than 500 votes in 2018.

“I was disappointed by how everything went and surprised by the way things turned out,” he added.

A New Democrat insider told the Star on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations that Yarde and the NDP riding association executive would have chosen the voting dates knowing they triggered a March 8 cut-off for sales of memberships. A membership is needed to vote on the nomination.

But Yarde said once he was given membership lists, it was clear some of the new members signed up on behalf of his opponent had purchased their memberships in February, raising questions as to why he was not informed sooner.

Horwath’s office declined to comment on the controversy Friday, although earlier this month the leader acknowledged “some concern” about party policy allowing sitting members to be challenged for the right to run in elections. She pledged to review it.

“We wish Kevin Yarde well, and want absolutely nothing but the best for him in the future,” Lucy Watson, provincial director of the Ontario NDP, said in a statement Friday.

Yarde won the previously Liberal riding over a Progressive Conservative candidate in Premier Doug Ford’s sweep four years ago. The former MPP, Harinder Malhi, is running again this time.


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