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Resignations by local politicians and sale of Osoyoos Times made headlines last January
One of the strangest and wildest days in South Okanagan political history and the sale of the Osoyoos Times after being in the Stodola family for more than six decades made headlines last January to get 2013 off to a rousing start.
In one of the most bizarre days in South Okanagan political history, two of the three candidates running in the Boundary-Similkameen riding in the May provincial election resigned within an hour of each hour in early January.
Marji Basso abruptly resigned as the NDP candidate for Boundary-Similkameen citing “personal reasons.” The NDP issued a statement announcing the decision about an hour after incumbent MLA John Slater announced he would not be running as an independent.
Slater was dropped as the Liberal candidate a week earlier on the grounds of unspecified “personal issues.”
Slater released a tersely worded statement saying he would not run as an independent in the election, citing the “politics of personal destruction” as his reason.
The resignations follow a posting by blogger Alex G. Tsakumis Jan. 17 in which he claimed to possess “very disturbing information, exceedingly disturbing information that, if published, will hand the provincial riding of Boundary-Similkameen to Linda Larson of the B.C. Liberals.”
Larson, a former mayor of Oliver and currently a member of Town of Oliver council, announced she would accept the B.C. Liberal nomination the day after Slater was dropped by the party.
“The details of what I have are demonstrable proof that neither Basso nor Slater have the principled judgment to be in public life,” wrote Tsakumis, whose blog postings are often critical of the NDP.
Tsakumis has previously been a columnist with Sun Media, and as a young man worked as an aide to former Premier Bill Vander Zalm.
Jan O’Brien, NDP provincial secretary, declined to comment on whether there was a connection between Tsakumis’s blog postings and Basso’s resignation.
“The extent of my comment about Marji’s resignation is simply that we received her resignation for personal reasons,” O’Brien said.
“That starts the process to find a new candidate and we will be working closely with the constituency association in Boundary-Similkameen to get that process underway as quickly as possible,” O’Brien said.
This, she added, involved setting a date for a nomination meeting and seeking a new candidate.
Slater’s statement said the past few weeks had been one of the most difficult of his life and he would not put his family through any more turmoil.
“The past couple of weeks have been an extremely emotional rollercoaster ride for me,” he said. “This brutal experience has shown me how tough smear and fear-based politics can be on people and their families. It is too high a price to pay, at least for me.
“We have reached a profoundly disturbing point in our politics in British Columbia. Instead of a campaign about positive ideas, good policy and what is best for British Columbians, we are instead witnessing a campaign based on fear and smear. B.C. deserves better.
“I cannot put my family or myself through the continual barrage of innuendos and smear which have been launched against me and which will continue until I withdraw as a candidate in the upcoming provincial election. So I say, ‘Enough’.”
After resigning from the B.C. Liberals after party leader Sharon White said the party would not endorse Slater’s nomination citing “personal issues,” Slater was asked by media across the province about issues relating to alcohol abuse, which he denied.
Slater admitted he did mix a glass of wine with prescription medication, which was a poor choice, and was seen wobbly and incoherent by reporters in the legislature in Victoria during one day last year.
However, he denied having any serious issues with alcohol and repeated in numerous interviews that he has worked hard for his constituents not only as MLA, but in his six years as mayor of Osoyoos and 12 years before that as an Osoyoos town councillor.
After more than a quarter century as part of the ownership group of the Osoyoos Times, Chris and Lori Stodola decided the time was right to retire. They sold the newspaper to longtime friend Bob Doull, who owns several publications in western Canada, including community newspapers in Oliver and Peachland.
“We started thinking it might be time to start thinking about retirement last spring,” said Chris, who purchased the Osoyoos Times with two business partners from his father Stan back in 1987.
Stan Stodola was the founder, president and owner of the Osoyoos Times when it first went to press back in 1947, making it one of the longest-running independent newspapers in the province.
Once he and his wife agreed it was time to seriously consider retirement, they started discussions with prospective buyers late this past summer, said Chris.
“We talked to a number of people and it became fairly evident that Bob Doull and Aberdeen Publishing were the best option for us to sell Osoyoos Times Ltd.,” he said. “Early in January we finalized the deal.”
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES