Thursday, July 27, 2006

Handle nominations delicately

I try to be fair and even-handed and call them as I see them, so I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this story in the Vancouver Sun today about the process around the selection of a Liberal candidate in Vancouver-Kingsway, Dave Emerson's stomping grounds.

The column raises the possibility that the nomination process has been rushed (the meeting is Saturday and was announced last Monday) with the possible intention of ensuring the selection of a favoured candidate, Wendy Yuan. The implication is she got a head start, and with her campaign manager also being an LPC VP for BC, also has the establishment backing.

At least one competitor has emerged, Mason Loh, who apparently is scrambling to catch up.

This isn't news to regular readers of Public Eye Online where Sean Holman has been reporting on the situation for a few weeks, most recently here, here, here and here.

Now, I should say at this point this is all just unsubstantiated innuendo, and I don't have any inside information or insight here. I know nothing about any of the potential candidates. This does, however, potentially look a little fishy.

As I wrote previously I'm in favour of getting a candidate place in this riding sooner rather than later, because of the unique situation with Emerson having crossed the floor. Getting a candidate nominated as a Liberal spokesperson to keep that issue alive and act as an MP in exile alive is great political strategy.

However, if the nomination process is seemed as tainted or rigged, that's doubly bad. Usually the trigger isn't pulled on a nomination meeting until at least a few quality candidates have been recruited; it's unclear in this case if there was more than one. Also, why only 12 days notice? Yes, there is a constitutional bare minimum but this isn't an emergency meeting, we've got a little time. Why wasn't it scheduled for a month away, to give potential candidates a more equal footing to sign-up members and organize? When notice of the meeting was given, the backdated membership deadline was three days earlier.

For a race in a riding where ethics is going to be a huge issue, this doesn't seem to be an encouraging start.

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've hit the nail on the head on this one. If I were running the party, I'd be feeling pretty stupid right now. I thought these old-school tricks to put a candidate in place were a thing of the past.

Anonymous said...

The Riding Association executive requested a nomination be called.

So did the BC party executive.

So did the Party president.

So did the BC caucus of Liberal MPs.

So did the council of riding presidents.

Every elected body within the party asked for a nomination to be called.

And, one was called.

Sounds like democracy to me (and maybe a few sour grapes)

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. Requesting a nomination be called does not mean giving a nomination with a retroactive membership cut-off. The meeting could happen in a month with no difference to anyone ... except Yuan.

You or the person you're apologizing for mishandled this situation badly, and the reason is very apparent - to get your anointed one the nomination without a serious contest.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Anon 446, first off, I have no links to and know none of the candidates so I have no agenda here, other than a dislike for rigged nominations and backroom shenanigans.

I have no inside knowledge, all I know is what I've seen, and what I've seen don't look good. What you say may be true. I've also read another anonymous commenter elsewhere say the riding executive are all on vacation and weren't consulted about the scheduling. So which anonymoys person am I to believe? Neither, until someone in a position to know speaks on the record.

I think anon 637 hit the nail on the head. All of those folks probably did want a meeting scheduled sooner rather than later, I don't doubt that. But did they want this date, and were they consulted on it? And why the retroactive cutoff when scheduling it?

Also, one of the criteria the greenlight committee is supposed to look for is has a full candidate search been done, and is there more than one credible candidate ready to run. I'd like to know if that has happened here.

It may indeed be that everything here was handled find and dandy like cotton candy. But it looks smelly, and it has become/has the potential to become a nasty communications issue. If there's nothing here they need to get out in front of this, fast. If there is something here, that sucks.

burlivespipe said...

I am familiar with the riding and both candidates -- both are credible and strong candidates. I have also heard much of the backroom garbage that's been going on to arrange this mess and the person who orchestrated it has done the party and his candidate a great disservice. Although Wendy Yuan is a great candidate and has proven in action to be a great party member (she stepped aside graciously when PMPM dropped Emerson into the mix), she is going to suffer a little backlash here because of her 'manager's' mishandling. Mason Loh has a larger profile, is known as an outstanding lawyer with great volunteer record in the community. He could have brought a thousand new members to the riding if he had been given a month's notice. I dear say that even with the serious handicap he's been given, many of the people who joined under Yuan's months-long sign-up march will be changing horses -- he has the support of former MP Sophie Leung, Senator Mobina Jaffer and former city councillor (and longtime backroom mandarin) May Brown. I just hope that who ever finishes second will remain a positive force in the party (and take a run in another riding).
It's also interesting that under Dion's recent policy drum roll, there would be even more problems thrown under the wheels of a candidate like Mason Loh because of his gender. That being said, I'd hate to see either of these candidates lost to the cause.