Politics is at its worst in political parties. Internal decisions are usually made in secret with little recourse to the rules of due process that apply to normal business decisions.
…Decisions were made which served to tilt the nomination process in the races to replace outgoing ministers, John McCallum and Stéphane Dion. Notwithstanding public protestations to the contrary, non-transparent internal steps were taken that served to benefit party-preferred candidates, facing tough nomination battles.
In one case, the meddling backfired. The popular mayor of St. Laurent, Alan DeSousa, was deemed ineligible to run by the party’s vetting committee. That move ostensibly paving the way for party favourite and former provincial minister Yolande James. Instead, DeSousa’s 26-year-old assistant, Emmanuella Lambropoulos, whose candidacy was green lighted, surprised everyone by winning the nomination.
By any standards, former PMO staffer Mary Ng, and former Quebec provincial ministeryolande James would both have been excellent candidates.They are young, articulate and reflect the diversity of Canada’s population.
But party meddling handed them a poisoned chalice.
The moves provoked a hot debate among Liberals. Jack Siegel, former co-chair of the Liberal constitutional and legal affairs committee, defended the party on his Facebook page. He claimed “the Liberal Party has had retroactive blind cut-offs for close to 25 years,” using it as a means to prevent “dumping thousands of forms at the deadline, keeping their signups secret and overloading the party’s membership systems with the flood of forms, all in urgent need of inputting.”
Siegel was deeply involved in the nomination which prompted my departure from politics. He oversaw a decision to count 500 unsigned ballots that had not been initialed by the returning officer. The membership system in the party of ces was so ‘overloaded’ that, just before midnight, an official deleted 378 eligible Liberals from the voting list. Party officials wanted to ensure the nomination of my opponent, who was the leader’s choice.
I know whereof Sheila speaks. I was at that meeting in her Hamilton riding in March 2004, and I was there to vote for her. I’d left my Dad’s deathbed to come and support her. Jack, I am sad to say, wouldn’t let me vote. “I expected that,” I told him.
I turned on my heels and went into the hallway, where I told the media about how Paul Martin’s thugs had rigged democracy against Sheila Copps. She, of course, ended up losing her own riding to Tony Valeri – and Paul Martin, of course, would go on to lose (deservedly, blessedly) to Stephen Harper. Partly because he had utterly destroyed the unity of the Liberal Party.
Are things any better under Justin Trudeau? Well, let’s put it this way: ten years later, when Dennis Mills was urging me to seek the Liberal nomination in Toronto-Danforth in 2014, I got a few calls from senior Grits. I was told the same thing, over and over: “Forget it. Don’t bother. They’ve already decided to reject you in the green light process.”
Why, I asked.
“You’re too independent-minded.”