A matter of misplacement has potentially changed the course of politics in the Westman area for the foreseeable future and left a giant question mark and asterisk beside a result many had thought would be a foregone conclusion a few short weeks ago.
The Twitter-verse exploded this past weekend as news broke of Brandon-Souris Conservative party candidates Chris Kennedy and Len Isleifson being disqualified for unfinished paperwork or missing deposits.
This news, coupled with the announcement a day earlier of Isleifson stepping aside, leaves many in the party and throughout the riding wondering about the legitimacy of the proceedings and the next step for the candidates who were left on the outside looking in.
As you are most likely aware, Kennedy and Isleifson were disqualified late last week for what party reps are dubbing “unfinished paperwork.” The decision leaves both men on the periphery of their party while the third candidate, Larry Maguire, takes the nomination by default.
This is not meant to discount the Arthur-Virden MLA’s ability to take the nomination or the riding as realistically, both Kennedy and Isleifson would have been in tough against the seasoned politician. But it does detract a bit from his campaign and leaves party members wondering what their membership really does in a party that appeared to make the decision on their behalf.
Maguire, if elected, would do an admirable job representing this riding, something I think any three of the gentlemen in this discussion would have. Take that in consideration with some of the other names out there and it would have shaped up to be a campaign with some important issues being discussed around the future of the riding and where any particular party would take it.
At this point, though, there is no doubt many who bought memberships through the other candidates as a sign of support are hopping mad, and it shows little for the cause of democracy in this nomination. Both Kennedy and Isleifson took exception to the news from the Brandon-Souris nomination committee, and it further deepens a rift that exists within the party. Members in this riding will be hard-pressed to support a candidate they believe was placed in the position undemocratically, which for Maguire is unfortunate as he presents some good ideas for the region.
The possibilities now exist for either Isleifson or Kennedy to seek opportunities with other parties, which for Isleifson, at least, won’t be the case as he stepped aside prior to the announcement from party brass. For Kennedy, it brings to the forefront an intriguing opportunity should he choose to hang his hat with another party or as an independent.
Either one would make for an exciting race locally as both Maguire and Kennedy drew decent numbers of supporters, which in Kennedy’s case many would hope was based more on the candidate than the party.
It should also not be overlooked that if another candidate decides to toss their hat in locally for the Liberals, it would create an interesting dynamic with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau rolling through town next week. Trudeau is the first leader to pay a visit to the riding ahead of a byelection call, and the timing is opportune to say the very least.
The future is a bit murkier for the Conservatives now in Brandon-Souris.
The corruption and scandals they have tried to avoid federally are starting to trickle down to some of the most ardent supporters in the riding. Most party faithful I have had discussions with in recent days are experiencing anger at the way this all played out, and many have since sought to return their party membership as a reaction to the way the nomination was handled.
This is bad news for a party trying hard to combat upsurges in support from others within Parliament that could spell trouble come election time. Whether it is enough to swing the riding in another candidate’s favour remains to be seen, but the announcement of Trudeau coming to town seems more than coincidence with regards to the timing.
I have tremendous respect for anyone who sticks their neck out to be a candidate. It takes some extra drive to put yourself on display, and both Chris Kennedy and Len Isleifson had the best interests of this community in mind. It is a shame they were not able to compete at that level with the party of their choosing.
Sadly for both candidates, it would appear that when you stick your neck out, you also put yourself in a position to face the axe — something neither saw coming, especially from a party both sought to draw support from.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 21, 2013