Orchardist Sheila Ackerman didn't pull any punches Wednesday in suggesting the BCFGA president resign.
During the third of four regional meetings of the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association, Ackerman told president Kirpal Boparai he was "a total embarrassment" after he was kicked out of the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-op.
There was also a series of allegations about threats and harassment at the co-op, unpaid wages to his Mexican farmworkers and a codling moth infestation.
The Ellison orchardist then turned toward the 25-30 BCFGA members at the Kelowna meeting, said she was also disappointed with them, and they too should be embarrassed for not saying anything.
On Thursday, Ackerman told The Daily Courier: "I just could not sit there any longer and know that our president should have stepped down two months ago.
"It's been a black mark on the BCFGA and has been for some time. There just comes a time when we need to deal with this and we haven't dealt with it and it made me angry that we're not talking. "Nobody spoke; nobody said a word. That was the biggest disappointment of them all."
During the past 30 years she has been a member, the BCFGA was always a proud political lobby group, she said. "We've always handled ourselves quite well. We've had our (bad) days but nothing ever like this."
Boparai is no longer welcome at the co-op packinghouses or B.C. Tree Fruits, which is owned by the co-op, and he appears to be at odds with the Sterile Insect Release program over codling moth on East Kelowna orchards he owns or leases, she noted. Summerland grower Joe Sardinha, who has also publicly said Boparai should resign, agreed growers talk a lot in the background but are mum at meetings.
"I think her frustration is something a lot of members feel. Personally, I think she should have had some support," he said.
The political manoeuvring in the BCFGA elections heated up Wednesday with vice-president Jeet Dukhia accepting the nomination for president after stating at an earlier Oliver regional meeting that he wasn't interested in that position but wanted to remain as vice-president.
"I gave it second thought. Now, I think I am ready," the Vernon grower said Thursday. He presented the president's report at the earlier meetings in Oliver and Penticton that Boparai did not attend.
Dukhia disagreed with some assessments that the 10-member executive had become a two-man show during the past year with he and Boparai in charge. "That is totally false. Everybody has one vote and their own opinion. It is a democratic procedure."
Boparai was nominated for president on Wednesday, but declined. Kelowna grower Fred Steele was nominated for the third time for president and Sardinha for the third time as vice-president. Elections will be held at the annual convention in January.
Boparai attended Wednesday's meeting, but his annual report consisted of reading line-by-line from slides prepared by general manager Glen Lucas and he didn't elaborate, said Sardinha. "In my mind, it was one of the poorest president's reports I've ever witnessed."
Dukhia disagreed, saying Boparai "had his own opinion too."
The last of the four BCFGA regional meetings was held in Vernon on Thursday night.