Liberals losing credibility on open nomination promise

·Politics Reporter
Liberals losing credibility on open nomination promise

There’s not many political watchers who actually believe that party leaders don’t play favourites when it comes to nomination races.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, however, has made it an issue distancing himself from his predecessors, stating on numerous occasions that he’s committed to holding “open nominations across the country.”

Increasingly, observers are calling B.S. on that.

The latest Liberal nomination race in question is the riding of Ottawa-Orleans where former leadership candidate David Bertschi has been told that he won’t be allowed to run under the Liberal banner.

He was up against retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, a star Liberal nomination candidate and adviser to Trudeau.

Over the weekend, Bertschi sent made a plea to supporters asking them to sign a petition urging the Liberals to “re-instate an open nomination” in his riding.

"In a recent letter to me the National Co-Chairs of the party told me of their decision to block my candidacy for the nomination here in my home riding of Ottawa-Orléans," Bertschi wrote.

"This was a purely political decision that came directly from the top and not from the designated chair responsible for the nomination of candidates colloquially known as the Green light committee.

"We urge all of you, irrespective of who you support to make it clear to the Liberal Party of Canada that you want the Liberals of Orléans to pick the next candidate based on merit. Back room strong arm politics are for other parties."

Party insiders have told the Canadian Press that Bertschi’s outstanding leadership debt was one of the factors for his candidacy being blocked.

The Tories who are seemingly gleeful over the internal Liberal Party strife aren’t buying the excuse. In an email exchange with Yahoo Canada News, a senior Conservative party source wondered aloud why other leadership candidates who had also accrued leadership debts, were allowed to run for nomination.

Unfortunately, for Trudeau, this wasn’t the first time he’s been accused of interfering with the nomination process.

Earlier this year, there were allegations of him blocking the candidacy of Christine Innes in a downtown Toronto riding.

The Canadian Press broke the story in March:

"[The Liberals] informed Christine Innes that she will not be allowed to run for a Liberal nomination in any riding after receiving complaints that her husband — former MP and junior cabinet minister Tony Ianno — has been using “intimidation and bullying” in a bid to lure supporters away from newly elected star recruit Chrystia Freeland. Innes denied the allegations in a statement…and claimed the Liberal party rejected her candidacy because she refused to run in a “pre-assigned riding” in the 2015 election."

Similar allegations of favourtism have also been made in several other ridings. In August, the Huffington Post chronicled internal party disputes in Don Valley North, Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Soeurs and Vancouver Granville.

The Liberal Party didn’t reply to an email from Yahoo Canada News, on Monday, with regard to the Ottawa-Orleans nomination race.

Earlier this year, however, a Liberal spokesperson told Yahoo that open nominations were indeed happening.

"Mr. Trudeau has publicly committed to holding open nominations across the country and in all 338 ridings. Let us be clear, open nominations allow local community members, and not the Leader, to choose the candidate. This does not, however, mean that everyone is entitled to be a Liberal candidate, regardless of what they do or how they or their campaign teams behave," Andree-Lyne Halle said.

"The green light process, run by each province or territories’ co-chairs, is seized with ensuring a fair process for all contestants for nomination."

"We are focused on building a new kind of party - one that works together in collegiality and with respect."

Certainly, the New Democrats and Conservatives continue to have their share of nomination quibbles as well.

But for the Liberals who are aiming to be “a new kind of party” these types of stories don’t look good on them.

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