By Fabian Mayer, September 28 2016 —
(With files from Scott Strasser)
Accusations of party disloyalty, an impeachment motion and a presidential resignation are just some of what took place within the Wildrose on Campus (WROC) student club before classes even began this semester.
The club was the scene of a tense political battle for the last month that even included prominent provincial Wildrose leaders.
Controversy started when WROC members Henry Lung and Phil Dippenaar submitted an official motion on Aug. 26 to impeach then club president Jenn Galandy. Galandy resigned on Sept. 6, six days before her impeachment hearing was scheduled to take place.
Galandy spoke with the Gauntlet shortly after her resignation.
“This was about [Lung and Dippenaar] scoring a win for their preferred ‘Unite the Right’ solution. I think that the role of our club is to stand up for Wildrose and follow the lead of the Wildrose membership, as set by their decisions at Annual General Meetings,” she said.
The “Unite the Right” movement aims to combine Alberta’s right-leaning parties — the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party — together to oust the current New Democratic Party from government.
Lung, who is also WROC’s fundraising director, responded to Galandy’s charge in a more recent interview.
“I deny that 100 per cent,” Lung said. “It was about Jenn’s poor leadership.”
When asked about whether he hopes for a united right in the province, Lung said only that he wants the NDP gone. Lung also said WROC has more autonomy than people may realize.
“We are not the youth wing of the Wildrose Party of Alberta because there is no youth wing,” Lung said. “We don’t want too much bureaucracy getting in the way of communicating our message.”
The Gauntlet obtained club documents that show recently-purchased WROC memberships include many non-students — most notably two current Wildrose MLAs and Wildrose Party executive director Jeremy Nixon.
In order to be a Students’ Union-sanctioned club, two-thirds of a club’s membership must be undergraduate students. Galandy claims around half of her recent sign-ups were students.
Current WROC president Ben Robinson said that despite the added non-student members, the club remains above the SU’s threshold.
Nixon confirmed that he bought a membership from Galandy and was planning to vote in the impeachment hearing, though he did not indicate how he would have voted.
“As the executive director of the Wildrose Party I probably should be involved with our Wildrose on Campus group,” Nixon said. “As a member, if I was able to go and vote, I would have went down and threw my ‘X’ next to whatever I would have needed to throw my ‘X’ next to.”
PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney is running on a “Unite the Right” platform. Nixon said the party isn’t worried about Kenney’s attempt to unite the right-leaning parties in Alberta.
“Everybody is keen on taking down the NDP in the next election and focused on helping build the Wildrose — understanding that a strong Wildrose is better no matter what the third party decides to do,” he said.
Following her resignation, Galandy announced she was made an unpaid youth coordinator with the Wildrose Party. She said her “resignation [had] nothing to do with the impeachment motion against her” in a statement published on Facebook.
“I believe that this impeachment motion was a tool to publicly shame me on social media, in a continuation of ongoing harassment by a group of some university students,” Galandy wrote in a separate statement.
According to SU vice-president student life Patrick Ma, WROC was placed on provisional registration when the club came to the SU for help with the impeachment process.
“When they came to us they were unsure as to whether or not they were following their own rules,” Ma said.
The SU is waiting on club meeting minutes to restore WROC to full club status. Ma admitted that the potential impeachment of a club president was unusual.
“As far as we can tell this is the first time that something like this has happened,” he said.
WROC was founded in November 2013 and has 160 members. The club promotes Wildrose Party values at the U of C.
Correction: A previous version of this article mentioned that the Students’ Union was waiting specifically on AGM meeting minutes from WROC, while they are actually waiting on minutes from multiple meetings held following the start of the impeachment process. The Gauntlet apologizes to its readers for this error.