A year ago this month, Justin Trudeau was a candidate for the Liberal Party leadership. He gave a big speech to delegates at what was called the “Liberal leadership showcase.”
Among other things, Trudeau said this: “The only person Mr. Harper wants his caucus to serve is their leader. Well, that’s not good enough. We need to be a party of community leaders, devoted to community service. That’s why I am calling for open nominations for all Liberal candidates in every single riding in the next election.”
“Open nominations” is political-speak. It basically means what the phrase implies: the selection of candidates is wide open, and there is no special treatment for supposed star candidates. In a true open nomination process, there are no barriers to anyone wanting to be a Liberal candidate – and, in particular, the leader stays out of it.
Trudeau made a big deal out of his open nomination pledge. No one asked him to. He did it, all on his own. In a speech after speech, in scrum after scrum, the newly-minted Liberal Party leader said open nominations were the new way.
In a year-end interview with the Toronto Star: “Every candidate for the Liberal Party in 338 ridings in 2015, or whenever the election does come, will have been chosen in a free vote by the Liberal members of that riding.”
In a statement made just last month: “Open nominations, which I continue to be committed to and have always been committed to, is about letting local Liberals choose who is going to be their candidate in the next election.”
And even on the Liberal Party of Canada web site: “Our Leader Justin Trudeau is committed to open nominations in all 338 ridings from coast to coast to coast.”
Well, that wasn’t true, was it? No. It was a lie.
Take, as an example, the sad case of the downtown Toronto riding of Trinity Spadina – where the undemocratic machinations of Trudeau and his inner circle have resulted in hurt feelings, lawsuits and an avalanche of bad press. There, the Liberal leader’s guarantee has been reduced to farce. His “open nominations” are neither.
But Trudeau keeps saying they’re open, even when they aren’t. “We’re glad to see there’s actually going to be an open nomination now in Trinity-Spadina,” he said, possibly with a straight face.
Three weeks thereafter, Trudeau emerged from a clandestine meeting with populist Toronto city councilor Adam Vaughan at Toronto’s Le Select Bistro – where a salad will set you back 13 bucks, and a plate of ribs 30 – and it was declared that Vaughan will be the Liberal candidate in Trinity Spadina. There you go, local Liberals: Adam is your candidate, whether you like it or not.
Mostly, they don’t. Most of them wanted Christine Innes, who was barred from running again in Trinity Spadina because her husband allegedly had been super-mean to some young Liberals. She’s now suing Trudeau and his oxymoronic brain trust for defaming her coast-to-coast. She’s going to win.
Vaughan, meanwhile, gives an entirely new dimension to the concept of “political loner.” While smart and hard-working, Vaughan has mused about starting his own political party. He’s also said that “becoming part of a political machine” inevitably results that a candidate is “held prisoner to that ideology.”
Not so in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. When it comes democracy, the Trudeau Liberals favour situational ideology. That is, the ideology or the policy is whatever Trudeau says it is. And if you disapprove? Well, too bad.
On Wednesday, Trudeau paused in repeating his “open nominations” mantra.
Why? Well, because on that day, the Liberal Party quietly slipped onto its web site that ten Liberals were going to be acclaimed across Ontario. No nomination meeting, no openness.
The good news, I guess, is we now know why Justin Trudeau said he admired “dictatorships.”