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Embattled Vancouver Green Party candidate resigns amid disclosure controversy

Two weeks after receiving the party nod, Nicholas Chernen resigns from trustee race over failing to disclose ongoing legal proceedings
Nicholas Chernen resigned his candidacy for school trustee with the Vancouver Green Party on Sunday night.

Nicholas Chernen’s campaign for a spot at the Vancouver School Board table is over just two weeks after it began.

Chernen resigned Sunday evening after failing to disclose to Green Party officials that he’s part of a lawsuit before the courts involving Glacier Media publication Vancouver Is Awesome (V.I.A.). Glacier Media also owns the Vancouver Courier.

Chernen issued a statement on Twitter but didn’t respond to an interview request from the Courier Monday morning.

“In 2014, I co-signed legal proceedings with several other petitioners. The actions were not pursued, as it is the responsibility of the petitioners to move it forward,” Chernen’s statement reads. “I believed, mistakenly, that by it not proceeding the issue had been dropped. As a result of my mistake, I failed to disclose my involvement in pending litigation to the Green Party of Vancouver when I was asked as part of my application to be a candidate.”

Green Party chairperson Anthony Hughes said Monday that Chernen remains a party member and will be eligible to run under the Green banner in the future if he chooses to do so.

“We are hoping that he stays involved in some capacity with the party, maybe as a volunteer helping our team get elected,” Hughes said. “I wouldn’t say that the door is completely closed at this point.”

Chernen had only been a party member for a couple months, according to Hughes, and his membership will not be revoked.

A manager of a clothing store on Main Street, Chernen filed suit in the Supreme Court of B.C. against V.I.A. and its founder Bob Kronbauer in 2014. Alongside his brother Glen and number of others involved in the fledgling Cedar Party, the suit alleged that V.I.A. was a front company to siphon developer money to Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver.

Chernen also co-filed another lawsuit against Robertson, a case that’s since been dismissed.

Kronbauer said the suit against V.I.A. defamed his company and him personally. The case remains before the courts to this day, because the onus is on the petitioners of the claim to book court dates. If they don’t, the case sits indefinitely.

“Imagine being named in a defamatory suit that says the media company you created was a ‘front company’ meant to send illicit donations to a political party — it's insane,” Kronbauer said in an interview. “It's been a difficult thing for me to process how people who have never met me, or knew anything about my business, could file a malicious suit like this. I know politics are ugly, but dragging an innocent business owner into the mud with something so awful, it's just so disheartening. I don't trust anyone in politics as a result.”

Chernen's statement Monday addressed the V.I.A. case specifically and apologized to Kronbauer for the "stress and anxiety the lawsuit has caused."

"To have this looming over his head and the publication for the past four and a half years, with no conclusion in sight, was wrong. I regret my role in this," Chernen said.

As for the Greens, Hughes wouldn’t disclose the party’s vetting policies due to privacy concerns but likened the process to the kind of information that would be sought from a prospective employer.

According to an article in the Vancouver Sun, that the vetting process does include specific questions around a candidate’s involvement in litigation proceedings. Hughes wouldn’t clarify that point to the Courier, though he said a review of that process will happen after the municipal election.

“We use every election, every vetting process as a learning experience,” Hughes said. “I don’t think any party gets it perfect each time around. But we will be looking at this. We’re a member-and volunteer- driven organization, so we’re also going to be looking to our members to provide us feedback.”

Given Chernen’s resignation, the Green’s trustee candidates include incumbents Janet Fraser and Estrellita Gonzalez, along with IT consultant Lois Chan-Pedley.

Voting day is Oct. 20.

- This artilce has been updated since it was first published.