“It’s going to be up to our (Electoral District Association) and we’re going to have to let them deal with the national council because a decision has already been made that I wasn’t a part of.”
— Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire
We have no doubt the last thing Larry Maguire wanted was to have memories of last year’s controversial Conservative nomination race in Brandon-Souris back in the news and on the minds of the public.
But a recent decision made by the Conservative Party of Canada’s National Council earlier this week drew an unpleasant spotlight back to the 2013 byelection campaign.
For reasons that were not made public, the council has decided that no incumbent Conservative MP who either won a nomination contest or was the acclaimed candidate for a riding after the 2011 federal election will have to go through another 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 wrote in an email.
The decision will affect four Conservative MPs who won byelections, including Maguire, as well as eventual nominees in a pair of Alberta ridings that will likely face byelections this year, according to a Globe and Mail report.
As we wrote on Wednesday, Hann chose not to answer Sun questions about how the decision will be received by voters and party faithful in the riding — perhaps that’s not so surprising. We don’t believe this is a popular move among affected EDA members.
Obviously it’s not sitting that well with Maguire either. In a letter Maguire penned yesterday and which is published opposite this editorial, he states that he wasn’t consulted on the party’s decision. He also states his support for an open nomination meeting.
We applaud Maguire for distancing himself from his party’s decision, and we completely agree with him — Brandon-Souris needs another open nomination meeting before the 2015 election.
Though not having to fight another nomination race in Brandon-Souris would allow Maguire more time to focus on his MP work, as well as the next federal election campaign, nomination races can help winning candidates build momentum and gain valuable public exposure at the same time — a fact that would not be lost on Larry’s future campaign team.
We also note that by holding another nomination process before the 2015 election, voters coming into the riding from Portage-Lisgar as a result of pending boundary changes, would also have a chance to choose their Conservative representative.
In the wake of the party announcement, Brandon-Souris Conservative EDA president Colleen Robbins said she also favours holding an open nomination, though she said the ultimate decision will fall to the board.
Brandon-Souris grabbed national headlines following a controversial CPC nomination process before the Nov. 25, 2013, byelection, that left two of the three potential candidates disqualified — though both men claimed they followed the rules to the letter.
“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.
Whether Conservative party supporters buy into the official line that “the rules were implemented fairly” during the 2013 nomination race, and that “no preference was given to any of the three potential candidates seeking nomination,” a new nomination race held without incident would go a long way to dispelling any lingering questions over the process.
We also suggest democracy would be better served by doing so.