It’s been a strange couple of weeks for politicians in the Boundary-Similkameen riding.
On Monday, January 21, NDP candidate, Marji Basso resigned her candidacy.
Basso resigned within days of Liberal candidate John Slater’s resignation from the Liberal caucus.
It also comes after a mysterious blog post by political commentator Alex Tsakumis, who, last Thursday, published a column directed at both Slater and Basso, entitled “Please call me ASAP … I won’t wait past today.”
Tsakumis claimed to have “exceedingly disturbing information” about Slater and Basso that would hand the riding to Linda Larson, the new Liberal candidate, if released.
“The details of what I have are demonstrable proof that neither Basso nor Slater have the principled judgment to be in public life,” reads Tsakumis’ column, which requested both candidates call him before he decided to publish his information.
In response to an email questioning her on the subject of the Tsakumis column, Basso simply replied: “Trying to straighten it out now, thanks.” BC NDP Provincial secretary Jan O’Brien said she received a letter from Basso Sunday, stating she was stepping down for personal reasons.
Tsakumis lists among his credits that he is a former provincial aide and a political advisor to former premier Bill VanderZalm during his time in office.
Basso, who was selected as candidate just last year, has not made any public comments about her reasons for stepping away from the NDP candidacy.
“We accept Ms. Basso’s resignation,” said O’Brien. “We will be working with the local NDP constituency association to begin the candidate nomination process as quickly as possible.”
Tsakumis wouldn’t go on the record with what his information was, though he does say he has verified it and its release would have been damaging both personally and politically to the two candidates. He is, however, satisfied with the outcome, now that both Basso and Slater have resigned and he has no plans to release the information or continue with the story.
Slater recently reconsidered a decision he made last week to run independently in the spring election. His office has since confirmed that he will not run independently following this term.
Last week, the B.C. Liberal party would only say that they felt he has “personal issues” that would negatively affect his ability to represent the party, rumours came to light that Slater had issues with alcohol, something that both he and his riding president, Zach Poturica, denied.
Slater endured what he called “a brutal week” of questions about why the party had chosen not to support him.
“The past couple of weeks have been an extremely emotional roller coaster ride for me. 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,” said Slater, in his release. “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.”
Slater said he was grateful for both the trust the people of the riding placed in him when he was elected as MLA, as well as to those who supported him over the past couple of weeks.
“Finally, I apologize to those I am letting down by dropping out of the race. I hope you can understand why I cannot continue with my campaign. It is just too much,” said Slater.
Neither Basso nor Slater is presently available for comments regarding their decisions.