Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta (WIPA) Leader Paul Hinman faces being fired Monday if the party board votes to revoke his membership.
If that happens WIPA will be looking for a new leader.
“At that point we would have to declare the leadership vacant,” said WIPA President Rick Northey.
“It’s not a forgone conclusion because it’s a board decision and not only one vote. It’s a two-thirds majority to revoke a membership. So, we’d need 10 out of the 14 or 15 present. It is a pretty high bar.”
“But my political gut is telling me that it’s within the realm of possibility.”
Hinman was given seven days’ notice of a disciplinary hearing “based on a number of issues” that are “technically, a matter of confidence,” said Northey.
“The hearing is scheduled for Monday and the outcome isn’t predetermined. The board has within its power under the code of conduct to revoke the membership of any member.”
“I can’t say that it will happen for sure, but after the events of today it seems more likely.”
Northey referred to a response from Hinman to criticism and concerns revealed Wednesday in a final Fort McMurray La-La Biche byelection report.
Hinman dismissed allegations in the report of “financial irregularities” and failure to follow Elections Alberta (EA) and party rules leading up to the March 15 byelection as “slanderous” claims made by “obnoxious” board members.
The report stated that while Hinman didn’t contravene EA campaign finance rules, he was in “conflict of interest” when he transferred campaign funds to pay himself.
It was submitted to WIPA’s board of governors from Provincial Nomination Committee (PNC) Chair Gurcharan Garcha on June 20, intended for limited release to the party membership.
“Mr. Hinman has been quoted using words like slander and defamation. I don’t think that allows him to stay as leader. Let’s say hypothetically, he’s correct. How does that help his political position within the party?” said Northey.
Northey, who stands by the findings of the report, accused Hinman of having a history of being less than cooperative.
“That report was written over the process of two months. Mr. Hinman was invited to participate. He used many different stonewalling tactics. He had ample opportunity to get his thoughts on the record.”
“When we had the meeting to discuss this, the report was out with notice, people were invited to put objections or amendments in writing so they could be considered by the board, he chose not to participate in that.”
“In the meeting where we had the final vote of the board to approve that report he chose not to be in attendance.”
Hinman, who has been party leader since July 2020, said he’s willing to participate in Monday’s Zoom meeting.
“I’d doubt they’ll allow me to be there but if I’m invited absolutely, I’ll be there.”
WIPA’s annual general meeting (AGM) is scheduled to be held July 23 in Red Deer.
“It’s astounding to me for a group of individuals who claim they’re grassroots, that 30 days from the AGM and the leadership review that they wouldn’t wait for the members to decide,” said Hinman.
“They don’t have the confidence in the membership?”
“They’ve locked me out,” said Hinman who claimed he has been unable to send emails, had his videos “stripped” from the party website, and has been unable to send notifications of meetings.
“They’ve done everything to take control of this like any dictatorship and yet they’re still so fearful they have to hold an emergency meeting to vote to revoke my membership?”
“They’re going to find there’s a real revolt by the membership.”
The timing doesn’t bode well for a new party trying to gain ground and facing a provincial election next May 29.
“The timing for this in the election cycle is not good,” admitted Northey.
But he said party members should be encouraged by the process.
“Everybody in this party is accountable to the rules. Even the leader. Just because you have the title of leader it doesn’t give you any special status. You still have to follow the code of conduct and the bylaws.”
“This is what sets us apart from the UCP (United Conservative Party). The system worked. This is our Watergate moment. We come out of this stronger because we proved that our system of checks and balances and accountability works.”