By Robert Washburn
This past weekend was an important one for Ontario’s Liberals as they gathered to polish policy in preparation for an upcoming election.
The party recently grabbed headlines by going after Premier Ernie Eves and the other Tory leadership candidates for spending mountains of money. Then last week, Burlington MPP Cam Jackson left cabinet under a cloud for spending $104,000 in 28 months on luxury hotels, meals and other perks. Geez, when a welfare recipient in this province spends a nickel on anything other than the basics, they get hammered by these guys. I guess it’s all how you define a luxury, eh?
But back to the Liberal prep meeting.
Leader Dalton McGuinty gave a rousing pep talk to candidates and strategists.
“The wind is at our back,” he told them. “There is an appetite for a real change here in Ontario.”
Mr. McGuinty might find the electorate in Northumberland losing their taste for Liberals after a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious battle to select a candidate. The five candidates are busy preparing for the Oct. 19 nomination meeting. At one point, Carolyn Campbell, the Liberal candidate in the last election, was pushing for an early nomination, back in the spring when she only faced Cobourg teacher Jim Daignault and Cramahe resident Stan Grizzle. Now the pack has grown to include Sandra Carter, of Quinte West, and Brighton Mayor Lou Rinaldi. Obviously, there was some concern the eastern portion of the riding was not being properly represented in the nomination process.
Party partisans will tell you this is good. In a way, it’s true. Lots of memberships should be sold, as candidates try to get supporters. This will translate well for the party, since it generates a great deal of excitement and momentum. Compare this to the Tories, who have Galt already to go and the NDP, who are nowhere to be found these days. By pounding the pavement to push party memberships, candidates bring in new blood and generate some excitement. It also raises the profile of the party in the community.
Then, out of the blue (or maybe red) comes the Committee to Unseat Doug Galt and Elect a Liberal (CUDGEL) under the auspices of Cobourg lawyer Martin Partridge and others. Its purpose was to buy Liberal memberships before last month’s deadline and then evaluate those seeking the nomination. The unspoken aspect to this is that it a method for creating a block of votes to be controlled by a small group or individual to pressure candidates.
Ironically, a CUDGEL is a blunt instrument used to strike someone. In this case, I guess it is Galt. Or maybe, it is some of the candidates.
Well, in the spirit of Liberal politics, here are a few suggestions for other groups that could form prior to the nomination meeting with a similar goal.
For those who are truly paranoid, a group called BLUDGEON (Better Look Under Doug Galt’s Election Offensive for Northumberland) would be perfect. Certainly, they would get a good whack at the situation.
For those who can’t make up their minds on any of the five existing candidates, a new group called SCREAM should be formed. That would be the Stupid Committee Ready to Elect Anyone Moving. Hey, got a pulse and we will run you against the sitting member.
For those on the fringe, NOOSE would be your group. That would be Northumberland’s Other Oddballs Seeking Election. No doubt they would send a hung candidate.
Since the New Democratic Party in Northumberland is off the radar, it might be nice to help them. A new organization called BLIND would be in order. That is the Basically Lost Individual New Democrats. Its mandate would be to get together. That, in and of itself, would be a great start.
Joking aside, it really makes one think what are the local Liberals up to these days. The notion that a select group would play the role of kingmaker at this level of party politics is embarrassing. And to say it is not a sign of dissention within the party is like trying to tell the rest of us the sky is not blue.
If those behind CUDGEL are so interested in being involved in satisfying an unmet agenda, then run with the rest of the candidates. That’s the way it is suppose to be in a democracy. Otherwise, give us all a break. What these manipulative people should rename themselves PITA (pain in the ass).
Thankfully, there are columns like this one, which are factual, articulate, ranting tirades (FART). Or then after reading this, you may want to cudgel a journalist.