TORONTO – Political commentary is fraught with pitfalls created by a priori perceived allegiances. When I traded in by partisan affiliation for the challenge of publishing a daily publication focused on national, provincial and municipal issues seen through a “community perspective”, it proved difficult for partisans to expect a “balanced” reporting and commentary. We are, after all, the sum of our experiences.
Having said all of that, no self-respecting publication can avoid commenting on the second-most important political event in Ontario this year – the selection of Leader for the official Opposition at Queen’s park. The first being, naturally the election to be held on June 7, in which that Leader will challenge the current Premier.
This week, the Progressive Conservative Party will make that choice. The integrity of the voting process, to be conducted online, is laborious. It is being questioned by party faithful, leadership contestants, failed aspirants in nominations processes and by the interim Leader himself, Vic Fedeli.
The legitimacy of the voters themselves is in doubt. Mr.Fedeli, first off the mark as a potential replacement for ousted Leader, Patrick Brown, claimed that the original list of party members was unreliable – an understatement of hyperbolic dimensions. At first read, he said, at least 70,000 names were, euphemistically, “ghost members”.
Mr. Fedeli withdrew from the race to concentrate on cleaning up the rot in the system and to prepare the party for an impending election. Rick Dykstra, party President responsible for maintaining the party apparatus, resigned under a cloud of controversy.
The recently touted party platform (the People’s Guarantee) was rushed to the local shredder.
The saga spilled into the Leadership debates. The second and last of these, held in Ottawa March 1, witnessed one of the four candidates, Granic-Allen, voicing a determined opinion that the PCs could not aspire to government unless they cleaned out the rot and corruption introduced by Patrick Brown and associates in the democratic process.
Granic-Allen claimed that more than fifty nominations were illegitimately orchestrated by Brown’s people to produce a contrived result. She claimed that the process ran counter to the Party Constitution and that the resulting nominees could not be representative or legitimate candidates of the PC party. She would cancel those nominations and start over.
Vic Fedeli has already done so in two cases. The unsubstantiated allegations of nominations secured by contributing to the Leader’s account are beginning to take root even as the evidence is “circumstantial” at best. It must be pure coincidence that all the nominations were supported by Patrick Brown; however, Fedeli and Granic-Allen have, by their statements and their actions, placed a cloud over all the nominees “selected” under the Brown regime.
It is fair to ask whether those candidates should feel compelled to explain their relationship to Brown. Did they feel the system was corrupt when they secured their nomination?
In the interests of local democracy and citizen-driven electoral processes, our PC Party readers would do a public service by asking that question of Mr. Fedeli, the interim leader, and of Messers Calandra, Cuzzetto, De Montis, Lecce, Puccini and Tibollo.