Why does the provincial NDP seem intent on tearing itself apart over the now-dated Adam Giambrone nomination meeting scandal? With 5 provincial by-elections in the rear-view mirror, and the NDP making a decent showing, winning 2 (including one big upset in London), what’s the point now for NDP insiders to be making a big fuss over the failed Scarborough-Guildwood candidate, Giambrone?
Today, the Toronto Star reports today that riding President Viresh Raghubeer will continue to pursue the matter of delegates unknown to the riding association showing up at the nomination meeting and being permitted to vote by central party officials (see: "Adam Giambrone nomination controversy not over yet, says NDP riding president", the Toronto Star, September 6 2013). I wrote about this earlier (“NDP’s Anti-Democratic Practices – Not Corruption – Probably to Blame for Giambrone Nomination", July 16 2013, and “The Latest in the Adam Giambrone Scarborough-Guildwood Nomination Meeting Scandal”, July 19 2013), and concluded that due to the New Democratic Party’s anti-democratic practice of forcing members to join both the provincial and federal parties, it was likely the case of “unknown” delegates having been entered into one database and not the other. And then a matter of communication breakdown between federal and provincial wings in the admittedly tight timeframes to host a nomination meeting.
According to the Star, NDP President Neethan Shan confirmed my suspicion, reporting:
“As in any nomination meeting…there are usually people who come in and their names may not appear on the list that [was] provided to the riding association for various reasons,” Shan said, adding that all 12 checked out on the Party’s central database.
So, that should be the end of the controversy, no? NDP Leader Andrea Horwarth showed significant interest in candidate Giambrone during the by-elections, campaigning by his side and claiming that he would be the best person to represent the voters of Scarborough Guildwood. Of course, long time NDP supporter, 90 year-old Joy Taylor, wasn’t convinced, as she reportedly tore up her membership card and wrote an 8-page letter to Party’s Executive, complaining of a “rigged” nomination process.
Apparently, riding President Raghubeer remains unconvinced as well, despite Shan’s explanation. The Star reports Raghubeer saying, “Too many people are afraid to speak truth to power,” and that he is preparing to do battle with the Party Executive. Raghubeer claims that the Party has yet to provide the riding association with its promised explanation. Apparently, remarks made by President Shan directly to the media aren’t enough to appease Raghubeer and the riding association. Perhaps Raghubeer is relying on the contents of Joy Taylor’s letter to the Executive, in which Taylor indicated that some of the 12 unknown delegates present at the nomination contest didn’t even live in the riding.
Of course, if any of the 12 unknowns didn’t live in the riding, it would completely contradict what Neethan Shan is on record as indicating to the media: all 12 checked out. So it’s clear that Joy Taylor is wrong and the Party Executive is right – and probably for the reasons that I speculated in my original blogpost. Of course, I live in Sudbury, and Taylor lives in Scarborough and has lived there for quite some time, and was probably present at the nomination meeting (I sure wasn’t), so I can understand why some might be more willing to give her the benefit of the doubt than me. But NDP President Shan has said otherwise – so Taylor must be wrong.
So if Raghubeer is relying on Taylor’s analysis of where the 12 lived, or if he has his own information which suggests that some or all of the 12 unknown delegates lived outside of the riding when they voted in the nomination contest, it’s clear that he must be wrong too, according to NDP President Shan. Raghubeer should come clean about what he knows about the 12 – on what basis is he now pursuing this matter with the NDP Executive? Shan’s provided the riding association with an explanation (although perhaps not in the format Raghubeer might have expected, speaking directly to the media instead of politely with the riding association). Why the vendetta?
With the Ontario NDP doing well in recent public opinion polls, why does this one riding association think it’s in their Party’s interests to get to the bottom of what they believe (erroneously, obviously, according to the Party President) was a “rigged” nomination contest? Joy Taylor believes that there is evidence of “the beginnings of decay, that if allowed to spread will destroy the party”. Maybe others in the NDP share her concerns, but it according to the polls, it appears that voters largely aren’t interested in whether the internal operations and processes of a political party are democratic or not.
Increasingly, some would suggest that it’s not clear that healthy democratic operations and processes in general, are particularly important to Canadians. We allow our elected officials a certain latitude these days which past generations would not have tolerated. Party Leaders rule with iron fists, and swaying public opinion matters more than does following a democratic process. With this worldview in mind, it’s clear that former Toronto city councillor Adam Giambrone was a much better candidate than whomever it was he opposed in that nomination meeting, as a by-election offers so very little time to introduce a fresh-faced candidate to voters. Andrea Horwath and the Central Party Executive must have known this. Perhaps it was the controversy kicked up by the riding association (and frankly, the lack of forthcoming information from the Central Party) which led to Giambrone’s disappointing third place finish.
Of course, not everyone subscribes to that worldview. Especially those who cling to the notion that the NDP is a Party which does politics differently, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Sure, it’s taken two months for the Central Party to now confirm that all 12 delegates lived in the riding, but recall that Party officials had confirmed to the media much earlier that everyone who voted was deemed “eligible” – and that wasn’t good enough for the riding association. Doesn’t the NDP riding association understand what its real purpose is in the NDP? Clearly, in their continual pursuit of this matter, they just don’t get it. They seem to be operating in that old NDP paradigm which valued integrity and process over electability and spin.
Of course, this particular notion which some political operatives believe to be "old fashioned" or "quaint" isn't just one which continues to afflict members of the NDP. I'm sure that there are some Liberals who believe their Leader Justin Trudeau, too, when he says that Liberal Party nominations will be open and democratic – despite all of the evidence to the contrary currently on display in the Toronto Centre by-election nomination, in which the Liberals have all but confirmed the coronation of the Leader’s chosen candidate, Chrystia Freeland.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the NDP’s nomination meetings aren’t open and democratic – certainly, the federal NDP race in Toronto Centre appears to be. Provincially, here in Sudbury, there are a number of excellent candidates vying to represent the NDP in the next election, all of whom have local name recognition. Even the Scarborough-Guildwood meeting appears to have been open and democratic, albeit more so in hindsight than at the time, if you take Shan at his word. But really, in the case of Scarborough-Guildwood, a critical riding which the NDP would have loved to pick up from the Liberals, you had a situation where one candidate had broad name recognition and had proven himself to be electable, and the other candidate had neither (although perhaps she had more riding members who supported her). What did Taylor, Raghubeer and others think the NDP was going to do in that circumstance? Not value winning over everything else?
No. In Scarborough-Guildwood, the NDP behaved as the NDP does: putting the electoral success of the Party ahead of everything else.
(opinions expressed in this blog are my own and should not be interpreted as being consistent with the views and/or policies of the Green Party of Canada)
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