After working on building support for his candidacy bid in the Abbotsford South riding for two and a half years, would-be provincial candidate Moe Gill feels betrayed by the B.C. Liberals.
"They pulled the rug out from under my feet. I've been working with this party for a long time, since [Abbotsford West MLA] Mike de Jong was elected [in 1994]. If they didn't want me to run, they should have told me two and a half years ago," he said.
Gill, a 16-year veteran on the Abbotsford city council, said he was encouraged by B.C. Liberal Party campaigners starting more than two years ago to take a run against then-Liberal MLA John van Dongen in Abbotsford South.
Gill said he was also spurred on by his long-time friend de Jong to sign up as many members as he could to challenge van Dongen.
Van Dongen was falling out of favour with the party at the time, as he raised questions about former premier Gordon Campbell's leadership, then later about Premier Christy Clark.
Van Dongen left the party in March to join the B.C. Conservatives briefly, and now sits as an independent MLA in Abbotsford South.
That left the Liberal spot open for Gill, he thought.
Then Langley MLA and deputy premier Rich Coleman met Gill at his home, just days before the B.C. Liberal Party's Whistler convention in late October.
Coleman tried to persuade Gill to run in Abbotsford-Mission, but Gill refused, saying that he knew the Abbotsford South issues, his supporters were there and that's where he was staying. Gill said Coleman acquiesced, and asked him to help Plecas in Mission, and Gill said he would.
"[The plan was that] I was running in Abbotsford South and [Darryl] Plecas was running in Abbotsford-Mission. He said that in front of my wife," said Gill, who attended the party convention.
Then the Friday after the Whistler event, Gill had a call from regional campaign manager Bruce Burley to meet him at the Cactus Club in Abbotsford at 9 a.m. The meeting went on until noon.
"I thought he was coming out to set a date for the nomination meeting. I had already filed the paperwork. Everything was done for Abbotsford South," said Gill.
But instead, Burley informed Gill he had been rejected as the candidate for the riding.
"He said he works for two people - Premier Christy Clark and [B.C. Liberal campaign manager] Mike McDonald, and he was speaking on their behalf," Gill recounted.
"He said 'you're not accepted in this riding. You don't have a riding right now.' I felt pretty bad, I had been in the party all this time and now they rejected me."
Burley told him he'd have to move to the Abbotsford-Mission riding, where he could be acclaimed as the candidate. All he had to do was sign the papers.
Gill again argued his support was in the south riding, and he knew that retiring MLA Randy Hawes had already endorsed Mission Coun. Tony Luck for the Liberal nomination. Another Abbotsford councillor, Simon Gibson, was also considering a run for the Abbotsford-Mission nomination - he has since declared he is running, and was endorsed by de Jong last week.
"I said I wouldn't have a chance there, because they were way ahead of me [in campaigning]. But it was 'take it or leave it,' " said Gill. "Burley basically bullied me out of the Abbotsford South riding."
Gill signed the acclamation papers, but had no intention of pursing the candidacy in Abbotsford-Mission. Upset at the whole dealing, he refused calls from Burley and the party.
"This is wrong what they are doing to me. Why should I be a part of their dog and pony show?" he asked.
"They basically took my rights away from me. How many other ridings have they done this in?"
The party also circumvented the riding association, which quit in protest over Gill's ousting.
Gill added that he also feels personally betrayed by Mike de Jong.
"I treated him like a brother, but I don't think I will shake his hand anymore."
While he remains a B.C. Liberal member, Gill isn't encouraging anyone to vote for the party.
"How are we going to trust this government if the deputy premier's word is not good enough? I tell people, vote for the party that will be honest with you, it doesn't matter what party it is."