We’re half-way through October, and two unforced errors by the Conservative Party brass are already driving loyal Party members out the door.
- James Dodds’ decision to break Erin O’Toole’s campaign promise to pay back money clawed back after the 2019 federal election
- The Party’s decision to prevent anyone from challenging Dr. Leslyn Lewis for the nomination in Haldimand—Norfolk
Both decisions are profoundly stupid and short-sighted.
Both decisions drive loyal and longtime Conservative Party members out of their so-called Big Blue Tent.
Before I continue I must make one thing clear lest anyone believe I oppose Dr. Leslyn Lewis.
Dr. Leslyn Lewis was the first choice on my ballot for the Conservative Party leadership contest.
I chose her ahead of every other candidate for a host of reasons, the primary one arguably being the subject of today’s commentary:
Or more specifically, the Conservative Party’s apparent lack of it in the wake of these really poor decisions.
Once again, unelected Party officials are undermining Erin O’Toole’s leadership at the precise moment they ought to be doing everything in their power to consolidate it.
Haldimand—Norfolk’s Nomination Contest
The electoral district of Haldimand—Norfolk, currently represented by retiring Diane Finley, is where Dr. Leslyn Lewis chose to attempt to win (dare I say it?) her rightful place in Parliament.
Haldimand—Norfolk is also where the Conservative Party chose to rig the process in favour of its star candidate – a particularly stupid move given Dr. Lewis’ popularity and outgoing MP Diane Finley’s endorsement practically guaranteed Dr. Lewis would win a nomination contest.
On September 28, 2020, there was no date scheduled for a vote on who would succeed Diane Finley despite public knowledge that local businessman Albert Marshall wanted to challenge Dr. Lewis for the honour of representing Haldimand—Norfolk.
Three weeks later (and without a vote in nomination contest) Dr. Leslyn Lewis was acclaimed the Conservative candidate for Haldimand—Norfolk in the next federal election.
According to Cory Hann, communications director for the Conservative Party, Albert Marshall didn’t follow the rules so his nomination papers were rejected.
“Mr. Marshall submitted that package on the very last possible day. Both being the last possible day to accept applications and it an incomplete package, we couldn’t accept it and he could not stand as a candidate.”
This, unfortunately, is where the Party reveals its true colours.
Instead of allowing the nomination challenge to move forward – a nomination challenge Leslyn Lewis is practically guaranteed to win – Party officials did everything they could to exclude all possible challengers.
These are not the actions of an inclusive political party that welcomes everyone under its Big Blue Tent.
This is thuggish, old-school politics-as-usual where everyone loses – including Dr. Leslyn Lewis – a point Albert Marshall made exceedingly well in the statement he published on October 15th.
This is a regrettable decision and tactic employed by the Party – one that does a disservice to the democratic process and undermines the opportunity of local members to make a choice between competing, motivated and qualified potential candidates.
This was the shortest nominations process in Canada – despite that, a herculean effort by so many demonstrated to me just what I want to fight for: You.
Consider the Timeline
- On September 28th a deadline for the nomination contest had not been set.
- Within days, October 6th miraculously became the deadline to purchase memberships in order to be eligible to vote in a nomination contest.
- On October 13th the party shut down the nomination process at the earliest possible moment while claiming it “followed all the rules.”
This absurdly short timeframe was designed with one purpose and one purpose only: to prevent anyone from running against Dr. Leslyn Lewis.
Dr. Lewis is a proven fighter who is, I’m willing to bet, happy to take on all challengers and soundly defeat them in an open and honest nomination contest.
She was already the hands-down favourite to walk away with the win – no matter who challenged her – so why the stupid political antics from the Party?
Because they can is the best answer I can discern.
Foolish and stupid are the best words I have to describe these actions committed by people who are supposed to know better.
While I heartily congratulate Dr. Leslyn Lewis on becoming the official candidate for Haldimand—Norfolk, the Conservative Party must stop committing these unforced errors in wholly preventable situations.
In the case of Haldimand—Norfolk’s nomination process it’s too late to correct the error.
The damage is done.
The Party acclaimed Dr. Leslyn Lewis as their official candidate while they simultaneously placed an ugly and totally unnecessary cloud over the head of one of Canada’s greatest political lights in a generation.
It’s still not too late to correct the the other unforced error though : Erin O’Toole’s campaign promise broken by an unelected Party official.
Simply keep our duly elected leader’s promise and return the money the Party stole from its Electoral District Associations.
Or the Conservative Party can continue to make these stupid unforced errors, act surprised when more and more longtime Party members resign their memberships, preferring to flee to any political party that holds even a shred of the promise of the priceless gem the Conservative Party is so intent on casting aside – its integrity.
If you believe this latest unforced error by the Party is a gross injustice to everyone involved:
- Conservative Party members in Haldimand—Norfolk;
- Leslyn Lewis;
- Albert Marshall;
- The second unnamed potential challenger for the nomination;
I encourage you to write Scott Lamb, the President of the Conservative Party, and express your views to him directly.
He can be reached at [email protected]
If you’re so inclined, please include the following links in your communications with Mr. Lamb and ask him to read them:
- Erin O’Toole: When Will You Keep Your Promise to End the Election Expenses Clawback?
- Will the Real Leader of the Conservative Party Please Stand Up?
- Haldimand—Norfolk Nomination: Another Unforced Error by the Conservative Party of Canada