David Reevely - June 03, 2017
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives will sidestep controversies over the candidates they’ve nominated for the next provincial election by having leader Patrick Brown use his authority to appoint them, says the president of the party’s Ottawa West-Nepean riding association.
Emma McLennan, a longtime party activist, has been asking for a re-vote in her riding amid numerous allegations of fraud, including more ballots counted in the boxes at the May 6 nomination meeting than there were registered voters, three separate bunches of ballots in the boxes all wadded up together, and party members signed up to vote in masses in one Bayshore apartment tower but listed with Toronto telephone numbers.
Karma Macgregor emerged from that nomination meeting with the most votes, just ahead of the other candidate, Jeremy Roberts.
Roberts appealed the results through a formal party process, with support from McLennan and figures like firebrand former Tory senator Marjory LeBreton.
The Progressive Conservative party executive, some of whose members took part in the Ottawa West-Nepean counting, was to decide on Roberts’ appeal Saturday.
“Patrick (Brown) told the executive that he was going to intervene in the nomination process and assert his power to appoint all of the candidates that have been elected at all 64 nomination meetings that have so far taken place. This makes all appeals irrelevant,” McLennan said in an email Saturday afternoon. “So much for having an appeals process.”
Roberts posted to his website that his fight for the nomination is over.
“If a party appears willing to undermine a democratic process to get the result it wants, and will not reverse that decision in the face of overwhelming evidence that the process was wrong and did not represent the will of the people in that riding, it raises legitimate questions about its worthiness to form government and the actions it will take once it does,” he wrote.
But despite it all, he wrote, Ontarians should vote for Brown and the Tories in 2018.
Macgregor had promised to abide by the party’s decision, whatever it was.
The Liberal MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean now is Bob Chiarelli, a target of conservatives’ passionate hate, particularly for overseeing electricity price hikes during his stint as energy minister. The Tories would love to unseat him probably more than any other Ottawa Liberal.
McLennan was neutral in the nomination race. But like Roberts, she has warned that if Tories don’t trust their own nomination processes, they’re going to have a tough time selling Ontarians on themselves as a party of integrity that deserves power.
Party president Rick Dykstra didn’t respond to a request for confirmation. He said earlier in the week that the executive would deal with the Ottawa West-Nepean situation but it was ultimately a family affair that should be kept inside the Progressive Conservative party.
The Tories’ candidate in Ottawa West-Nepean in the last two elections was Randall Denley, a longtime Citizen writer and editor, and now a freelance op-ed contributor. He reported much the same thing as McLennan on Saturday, calling the rejection of Roberts’ appeal “an inexplicable, inexcusable decision.”
The Tories have an extraordinary number of fights over their nominations in the leadup to the next election, with would-be candidates across Ontario complaining publicly that they’ve been the victims of the party leadership’s favouring other candidates, been disqualified at the last moment or been ripped off at nomination meetings.