Saturday’s annual general meeting did not bring unity – or clarity – for members of the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta (WIPA).
Depending who you ask, members either elected a new party board and voted to reinstate former leader Paul Hinman, or the party’s existing board — who removed Hinman — will continue to bar Hinman from the party, was forced to adjourn the meeting early, and will retain their positions for another year.
The membership gathered in Red Deer, where they unanimously voted to remove the provincial Board of Governors “for the way they’ve been behaving,” Hinman said.
“I was reinstated as leader with unanimous consent from the floor,” he told True North on Saturday night.
Last month, the board voted to suspend Hinman’s membership for at least 18 months and boot him as party leader after claiming he breached the party’s code of conduct.
The board appointed Calgary engineer Jeevan Singh Mangat to lead in the interim.
Hinman was elected as the WIPA leader in July 2020. He ran and lost in the March 15 Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection won by Brian Jean, now a United Conservative Party leadership candidate.
According to a report submitted to WIPA’s board of governors from Provincial Nomination Committee Chair Gurcharan Garcha on June 20, Hinman did not follow Elections Alberta rules, party rules and nomination guidelines in the race. Campaign funds went to an honorarium for Hinman, which the report said is “highly irregular.”
As Hinman is not a member in good standing, he wasn’t welcome at the AGM, board president Rick Northey told True North ahead of Saturday’s meeting.
Following the AGM, Northey said Hinman “barged” into the meeting and refused to leave.
“So we adjourned the AGM. (Hinman) then took the stage and his supporters are having their own meeting now,” he said in a message to True North on Saturday afternoon.
Northey also said “no real business” was conducted because Hinman’s supporters did “contentious” points of order for four hours.
“We didn’t even agree to an agenda,” he said. “The board election to fill vacancies was not able to proceed. So the remaining board members will continue on.”
Ten board positions were supposed to be filled at the AGM. The 20 board members are on a two-year term, so half shuffle out every year, thereby retaining some institutional memory and receiving some fresh ideas.
Hinman said the board never made a proper adjournment of the AGM. They made one amongst themselves and then walked out “in disgust,” he said.
“Nobody in the room heard,” he said. “We were in recess.”
After the board left, Hinman said a motion of no confidence in the board passed.
“And we carried on and we held our nominations and voted and did everything that we’re supposed to do by the books and we got it all on video,” he said.
Hinman said 150 people stayed after the board members left and voted to reinstate him.
Northey said there were 140 members physically present at the AGM and another 75 online.
Of those “about 40” were Hinman supporters, Northey said.
Asked if this means the party will split, Northey said, “When (Hinman’s) friends realized they failed, they won’t have any reason to stay.”