Maybe we should cut Justin Trudeau a bit of slack.
The Liberal leader has been drawn and quartered by his own flock this week for trotting out councillor-cum-MP-prospect Adam Vaughan in the yet-to-be-called Trinity—Spadina by-election. Bad news for those others competing for the nomination, those lowly mortals.
But the narrative that Trudeau has shived the golden pony of open nominations — pushed by such fist-wavers as Warren Kinsella, king of the pedantic curmudgeons — may be more fiction than fact.
The mullahs in the Liberal Party did, indeed, sign an edict declaring a state of emergency, giving them extraordinary power to supersede the open nomination groundwork that they so boastfully laid.
But they’ve yet to send out the nomination riot police. At present, the political liberties enjoyed by each Liberal in good standing are still intact.
There will still be a nomination contest. The contenders — including Ryan Davey, husband of the riding association president who blasted Trudeau’s meddling — will still have a shot, however slim, at becoming the candidate.
Well, except Christine Innes. But we’ve been over that already.
I’m not one to applaud half-measures towards political sincerity. Either you do what you set out to, or you have a very good excuse why you haven’t, else you’re a hypocrite.
On barring Innes from running, Trudeau et al are hypocrites. Open nomination means open. Open means free of obstruction. Free of—
Oh nevermind. You get what I mean. Open.
And this malarkey about “bullying” is no excuse.
If it were, then I suspect the other candidate disqualified from running would be Chrystia Freeland.
Yes, I had a conversation with one board member of the Liberal EDA in Trinity—Spadina and they confirmed to me that, weeks before Innes was barred from seeking the nomination, he had lodged a complaint to the federal party about one local member being bullied by Freeland’s people. The party said ‘tough luck.’
And tough luck it should be.
While parties should absolutely have the power to speed up or facilitate nomination processes in times of crisis — as right now is for the Liberals in Trinity—Spadina — they shouldn’t have the power to axe the candidacies of candidates whom they are not fond of.
On the upside, Trudeau is a marked change from past leaders — like Paul Martin, who inserted candidates on a whim so tactlessly that, in the case of Brampton—Springdale, the EDA endorsed the New Democrats; or even Michael Ignatieff, who protected only those MPs who raised a certain amount of cash.
And while Adam Vaughan may be hand-picked by the leader, and while he may be a shoe-in to win, that’s not a problem.
The point of open nominations isn’t to create a race of little Kants, compelled by a categorical imperative, groping and fighting each other until pure aptitude places one atop the rest. No. Nomination races are beauty pageants where the prettiest girl with the most money and the most volunteers will always win.
The New Democrats may have been wise to find a prettier girl. While Joe Cressy is a good, hardworking political operative who I’ve only nice things to say about, he’s no Adam Vaughan.
But that will sort itself out. The parties have the weeks ahead to duke that out.
In the interim, a polite clap for Trudeau.
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