Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Hudak telling the rank and file to butt out?

The provincial Liberals nominated their candidate for the electoral district of Burlington on May 16 at Burlington’s Seniors’ Centre. His name is Karmel Sakran, a Burlington lawyer and Chair of the city’s 2010-11 United Way campaign. Apparently Mr. Sakran was acclaimed without opposition for the nomination, in what might be a trend here in Burlington.

A couple of days before, news broke that René Papin, one of the two Progressive Conservative (PC) nomination candidates, withdrew from the race for the PC nomination for the Burlington riding. Mr. Papin is quoted as saying:

“I have been advised that my candidacy, at this time, does not fit the strategic direction of the party, and that it would be in the best interests of the party if I were to withdraw.”

What does this even mean? Mr. Papin has served as president of the PC riding association, so how does he “not fit the strategic direction of the party” and why is it “in the best interests of the party” if he withdraws? Who would give such advice? I wrote to Mr. Papin to try to get clarification, but have had no response.

This is the second candidate to withdraw: Brad Reaume withdrew from the race in early April. He too did not respond to my effort to get a more substantial explanation.

Are ordinary PC party members being sent a message here? Are we being told to butt out of the nomination process in favour of candidates “anointed” by party headquarters? Is this Tim Hudak’s leadership style? If so, be it known we can just as easily butt out of the election process altogether and stay home on October 6.

There was a time when the nomination process was used by rank and file members to select a candidate who’d represent them in the next election. During what—if effectively organized and vigorously contested—can be a robust process, the rank and file gets the chance to evaluate candidates and determine their suitability. Sounds like a healthy, democratic process to me.

I’m hearing from elsewhere in the province that others are questioning the trend to centrally control the nomination process, though Tory MPP Christine Elliott, who is the deputy leader of the party, denied preferential treatment for some candidates, saying:.

“We do not appoint candidates in the Progressive Conservative Party … everyone has the right to run. We do not have ability to throw people aside. If people want to run they have the ability to run.”

That hollow sound you hear are from her words that do not seem to square with the facts, as several potential nomination candidates like Mr. Papin might attest (see list here).

For goodness sake, if a recent president of the riding association—the local face of the PC party—does “not fit the strategic direction of the party,” who the heck would? Mr. Papin was a serious candidate, at least, that was the definite impression I got after I accepted his invitation a few weeks ago to have a chat over a cup of coffee. Now he’s out of the race?

Apparently, there is only one official candidate left. Wow, a choice of one—how democratic!


© 2011 Russell G. Campbell
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

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