CORNWALL – The appointment of a parachute candidate by the Ontario NDP has prompted the Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry riding association president to resign.
In an April 28 letter to federal and provincial NDP officials, that was also released to media, Rebecca Sorrell said that it was apparent that party organizers “have no desire to support democratic, grassroots efforts in communities.”
Sorrell had been the local riding association president for the SDSG NDP since 2019 and a member of the party since 2004.
In her letter, Sorrell detailed attempts by the local riding association to secure a local NDP candidate in SDSG in the 2021 federal election and the upcoming 2022 provincial election. For the 2021 federal election, she said they had a candidate who had passed previous vetting by the party, but that a candidate had already been appointed. Ottawa-based construction worker and trades student Trevor Kennedy was the party’s nominee for September 20, 2021 election. Kennedy did not campaign in the riding during the election.
Sorrell said she considered resigning after that but “again my love for the party prevailed.”
In the lead up to the 2022 provincial election, Sorrell said the local riding association worked to secure a candidate.
“We had an amazing candidate,” she said. “Someone else that had run before that was not only experienced but an incredible community advocate.”
Sorrell indicated that the candidate, who was not named in the letter, and herself had requested candidates packages from the Ontario NDP for months. Once the candidate package was sent to the party headquarters, Sorrell said the candidate did not pass the vetting process which she also called “extremely invasive.” That process included a credit check, providing copies of university degrees, and contacting the candidate’s employer. She claimed that the party rejected the local candidate because they were “too visible on social media.”
Sorrell said that as riding association president, she only learned that Kingston teacher Wendy Stephen was being parachuted in as the SDSG NDP candidate on April 25. That was when party official Jordan Mota notified her of Stephen and the calling of the nomination meeting.
“It is very apparent that the organizers and people working behind the scenes at central offices both federally and provincially do not care about the little people they rely on to keep the party alive,” she said.
On how the provincial party treated the local riding association and her as president, Sorrell said she had no faith left in the party.
“My daughters deserve to see that women should be treated better than this,” she said. “Everyone deserves to know their hard work is valued. I no longer have faith that my morals align with this party as I so desperately wanted to believe that they did. I now see the system is designed to stay broken.”
When contacted by The Leader, provincial NDP officials called the nomination process an internal matter and would not comment on it.
When asked for comment by The Leader, the party issued a response from former SDSG riding association president and former candidate Elaine MacDonald.
“It’s sad to lose a volunteer,” MacDonald said. “But as the former president of the association, I can tell you we’re excited to have Wendy Stephen as our NDP candidate in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, and excited to campaign for Andrea Horwath’s plan that will fix what’s broken in Ontario.”
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader