Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire won’t have to go through a nomination race leading into the 2015 election, according to party brass.
In a decision made by the Conservative Party of Canada’s National Council earlier this week, no incumbent Conservative MP who captured a seat after the 2011 federal election will have to go through an open nomination meeting.
"Any MP who won a nomination after the 2011 general election will be recognized as the nominated candidate for the 2015 general election, when Canadians will have a choice between the strong, stable leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the poor judgment of (Liberal Leader) Justin Trudeau," party spokesman Cory Hann said in an e-mail.
Hann chose not to answer questions about how the decision will be received by voters and party faithful in the riding. Brandon-Souris grabbed national headlines following a controversial CPC nomination process prior to the Nov. 25, 2013, byelection.
Maguire, who was eventually acclaimed as the candidate, went on to win the byelection by less than 400 votes.
Yesterday, he danced around questions about whether he thought Brandon-Souris should have a nomination meeting for the 2015 election, shifting the focus to the local association.
"It’s going to be up to our (Electoral District Association) and we’re going have to let them deal with the national council because a decision has already been made that I wasn’t a part of," Maguire said from Ottawa.
Maguire said he isn’t sure if the board will take issue with the decision and request a nomination meeting.
All three major political parties promised open nominations due to changes in Canada’s electoral map. The changes, which redraw riding lines based on the redistribution of population, will result in 30 additional House of Commons seats.
Colleen Robbins, president of the Brandon-Souris EDA, said the matter will be reviewed at the next meeting, but she supports an open nomination.
"Because of the last nomination, it would be nice to have a nomination meeting to make sure everyone realizes ... the last nomination was not a fixed nomination," Robbins said. "There are a lot of people out there who still think it was, so it’d be nice to clear that up and have a true nomination, but it will be up to the board to decide."
Nomination meetings often build consensus and help unify a party heading into an election, something that might be important after the Conservatives lost approximately 20 per cent of their total vote in Brandon-Souris from the 2011 election.
"As a member of the party we’ve always liked the nomination process," Robbins said.
Brandon University political science associate Prof. Kelly Saunders said its "fundamentally undemocratic" to deny party members the opportunity to choose which candidate will carry their party’s banner.
With the fallout from the last nomination, Saunders said the CPC has two choices.
"Either they can make the process more fair and transparent or they can just shut it down, and it looks like they’re choosing the latter."
Due to redistribution, Brandon-Souris will lose a portion of its northeast boundary while inheriting areas to the east that were previously in the Portage-Lisgar riding.
Carberry, Douglas, Rivers and Forrest to the north will be out of Brandon-Souris, while Pilot Mound, Crystal City, Clearwater and Holland will be part of the riding.
"The timing of this is particularily bad," Saunders said. "There are new communities that are being added into the riding where party members will be denied an opportunity to choose who their candidate will be."
Saunders said if she was advising the party, she would stress the importance of having an open nomination in Brandon-Souris.
"All the decision does is put the nomination issue back on the front pages and reminds voters that the last process wasn’t as fair and transparent as it could have been," she said. "This only keeps the issue alive and gives it legs, and it’s surprising that the party would want to do that in a riding where they barely held on in the byelection."
Gerry Dyck, president of the local Liberal association, said it’s business as usual for the Tories.
"It’s just the way the Conservative party wants to do it," Dyck said.
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