Monday, December 05, 2005

Hello Pot? It’s Mr. Kettle calling

I've always been against the idea of appointing candidates, particularly when there is a strong and active riding organization in place. When I've been politically active it has been at the grassroots riding level, and appointed candidates are a slap in the face to the people on the ground that tirelessly, and thanklessly, do the hard work between campaigns.

That said, I'd rather see an appointment than a manipulative rigging of the nomination. The Liberals took a lot of flack for bungling the Michael Ignatieff nomination in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, and rightfully so, although reading articles like this one lessen my sympathies. Still, if they'd just appointed him it's a one-day story, and they can move on.

It is rich though to see that despite all the high-mindedness of The Right, they are not immune to such backroom bungling and manipulation. Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is crying foul, saying the Conservatives rigged the process to prevent him from running in Gurmant Grewal's old riding of Newton-North Delta. Party brass reply he simply missed the filing deadline. Sound familiar?

More disturbing though is the mess that's brewing around Alan Cutler's nomination as the Conservative candidate in Ottawa-South. Cutler, who blew the whistle on the sponsorship scandal, is by all accounts a man of integrity, and his running is a real coup for the Conservatives. On the government or opposition side, he’d be a welcome addition to the House.

Questions are being raised though about how he got the nomination. The story is that the 2004 candidate Alan Riddell, who wanted to run again and was disqualified once by the party before being let back in the race. Early reports said he was disqualified, giving Cutler the nomination by acclamation, but that was quickly corrected by Riddell and the local riding assocation, which said he had "graciously stepped aside" to make way for Cutler. Already, something weird is going on.

Last week though, Riddell went on TV to say he was asked to step aside, and the party promised $50,000 to cover his expenses in seeking the nomination. From weird to scandalous.
Harper campaigned in the riding with Cutler this morning and dodged the question, except to say the party never agreed to pay Riddell a dime, although it did discuss it, and allude to Riddell being an “unacceptable candidate.” But that’s in conflict with a letter posted on Bourque Newswatch from the party’s executive director stating Riddell was “withdrawing voluntarily” and the party “looks forward to having him run as a candidate in subsequent elections.”

Granted, Bourque also posts a release from Riddell’s campaign saying that he withdrew voluntarily, in conflict with his comments last week on the CBC. So, clearly something stinks here. Did the Conservatives agree to compensate Riddell for stepping aside and then change their minds, causing Riddell to break his silence, or is he just a wacko? Either way, Harper isn’t talking, and Alan Cutler must be wondering just what the heck he’s gotten himself into.

The moral of the story? Political parties that live in glass war rooms shouldn’t throw stones. Oh, and a second moral. Just appoint your star candidates and save yourself the embarrassment, or better yet, help them organize to win a fair and democratic nomination race.

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1 comment:

Scott Tribe said...


Just wanted to send you our formal welcome for becoming a member of Progressive Bloggers