Would it be ex-Reformer Rick Malboeuf? Or maybe Charles McVety devotee D'Arcy Keene? Or perhaps some new, fresh face would emerge from the ranks? Whoever it turned out to be, he or she would most certainly be elected by an open, democratic process by the local Conservative Party membership. Right?
Meh... not so much.
Halton riding has a consistent and active membership of around 550 and a significant amount of money in the bank. It has always had a healthy riding association active in many community events and experienced at winning elections. There have been at least three very well-qualified members who have announced their intention to seek the candidacy for the same two years. All the requirements for holding a candidate selection process have been in place. It is axiomatic that the longer a candidate has to work the riding the more likely he/she is to have a positive influence on the outcome of an election.
However, PoliOps has decided to appoint Lisa Raitt as the Tory candidate in Halton...
It is likely that the fuss raised by the newspapers and blogs about the nefarious treatment of the Mississauga East-Cooksville membership caused PoliOps a little temporary concern (see Mississauga South) and sometime in February/March 2008 they told Lisa Raitt she'd have to campaign for the candidacy (like Major Ted Opitz). She flatly refused. She gave the bogus excuse that her position in a government agency didn't allow her to campaign for a political position. This is not true. More likely she was concerned about the optics among Toronto city councillors and/or she simply didn't want to lower herself, or exert herself, to engage in a contest for a position she had previously been assured was hers and that she still wanted to have.
So PoliOps made a tactical shift. The membership in Halton will not be allowed to choose their own candidate. Whenever the writ is dropped for the next federal election, the cover of the call to arms will be used to sneak in Lisa Raitt as the official Party Representative.
Oh yes. This is going to be WAY fun.
As an aside, while I was digging through Garth Turner's blog archives looking for info on his former nomination rivals, I ran across this gem of a quote from the days shortly before he was unceremoniously booted from his own party:
Political parties are shaped by the people who form them. Policies emerge, evolve, mature or disappear. Leaders come and go. Nobody expects new members to throw off their old ideas or principles when they join - the party only hopes supporters will be just that, supportive.
Parties adopt and reflect the people in them, rather than the other way around. Modern Canadian political parties are not mental or moral straightjackets which squeeze out personal belief or questioning analysis.
Given the somewhat upsetting discussions I've been having recently with some of my NDP brethren in the blogosphere over my support of the Liberal Party, I found that to be appropriate and surprisingly heartening.
Well said, sir.