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Courts order new vote for BC Cricket’s leadership, oust president

Clubs in Langley, Nanaimo among many singled out for irregular voting at AGM
The Canadian men’s national cricket team holds a scouting session at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria on April 28, 2023. B.C.’s main cricket organization has recently been roiled by controversy over voting that spilled into BC Supreme Court. (Austin Westphal/Black Press Media files)

A judge has ordered new elections for the board of Cricket BC after irregularities, including improperly cast proxy votes from the Langley, Nanaimo, and Allcomers clubs during last November’s annual general meeting.

Justice Andrew P. A. Mayer also removed the sitting president of Cricket BC, Vimal Hardat, finding he was not actually a member of a cricket club, and therefore not eligible to serve as head of the provincial society.

The current controversy goes back to the Nov. 4, 2023 AGM of the West Coast Cricket Organization, which is usually known as Cricket BC.

Cricket BC has numerous regional member clubs across the province, including on Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, and into the Okanagan.

At the Nov. 4 AGM, Cricket BC held an election for five positions – vice president, secretary, and three director members at large.

The petition to the court was launched by Bhavjit Jauhar, Riaz Dawood, and Alphonso Franco, each of them directors of cricket clubs within the wider B.C. association. All three were defeated by narrow margins in the elections for seats on the Cricket BC board.

They alleged voting irregularities, and the judge agreed.

Voting for leadership posts in Cricket BC is done by each of the local member organizations. In the most recent elections, eight votes were made by delegates of various cricket clubs, and 22 were cast by proxy holders.

Both proxy and delegate votes had issues, and that led Justice Mayer to order new elections.

Cricket BC’s bylaws says that a member in good standing – defined as the club itself, not an individual – can vote.

The vote is supposed to be cast by the president or secretary of each club.

However, out of eight delegate votes cast in the election only one, by the Abbotsford Cricket Club, was actually cast by a director or by someone authorized to vote on behalf of the club.

But the BC Cricket leadership, including Hardat, had told clubs they could use delegates for voting, Mayer found.

“I find that the decision of Cricket BC to accept delegate votes at the November 2023 election was calculated to affect the result of the election,” Mayer said in his ruling.

There were also issues with the proxy votes. Of the 22 votes cast by proxy, Mayer found there were issues with three of them – the Langley Cricket Club, Allcomers Cricket Club, and Nanaimo Cricket Club.

Mayer noted that the proxy forms were not properly completed, or were completed by people who were ineligible to use them.

The proxies should have been granted to another member to vote – in other words, to another club that was a member of Cricket BC. But the proxies were assigned to individuals.

Mayer found this was a second voting irregularity.

He ordered a new election, to be held no later than March 15 this year.

Mayer then turned his attention to whether Hardat was eligible to be president of Cricket BC, a position he’s held since the November 2022 AGM.

The judge found that Hardat had not been qualified to run for president in the first place. Hardat said he was a lifetime member of the Victoria and District Cricket Association (VDCA), but Mayer found there was insufficient evidence that Hardat had ever paid the required fees.

“Given that Mr. Hardat is not president of Cricket BC it is not appropriate for him to preside over the March 2024 election,” Mayer said. The new election will be monitored by the society’s vice-president and secretary.

Hardat contacted the Langley Advance Times by email to say that he has been a paid lifetime member of VDCA for a decade.

“My name has been on their website for the past 10-plus years, and was only conveniently removed on Jan. 14, 2024 (two days before the petition),” Hardat said.

He also forwarded emails from 2013 from in correspondence with Franco, who was then and is now the VDCA president. “Both your names are now added on the list of Life Members on the VDCA website,” said one email, asking where he wanted the receipt sent.

The election is currently scheduled for March 15, but both sides are expected to meet in court again early in the week before that for an appeal hearing.

Hardat said that the word “delegate,” which was key to the court ruling, had been used loosely by Cricket BC for years – they should have said authorized rep.

“We’re not here to fight cases and run to courts,” Hardat said. “We’re here to promote cricket and grow the game.”

Jauhar said he is worried the next election will not run smoothly, either. He and the other petitioners had asked for the court to monitor the election, but Mayer turned down that request.

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Jauhar said that the problem are a side effect of cricket’s growing success and popularity in Canada, with Cricket BC running multiple divisions, including Premier and Elite divisions, from which professional players are emerging.

“Finally, after so many years, players have contracts,” Jauhar said. Canada now has its own professional league, GT20, and Cricket Canada is lobbying for more funding.

With more influence comes more money, travel, and perks for high-level officials with the clubs, said Jauhar.

The three largest clubs in Canada are in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. They have a lot of influence on Cricket Canada, said Jauhar.

He blames problems with Cricket BC elections – this is the second court challenge over voting issues in the last year – on people wanting access to the high-level positions in the provincial cricket organizations.

As for the March 15 vote, Jauhar was not optimistic.

As of Wednesday, March 6, “we don’t even know the venue yet,” he said.

- this story has been updated with comments from Vimal Hardat