Charles Conn ran for the Reform Party in the riding of Mississauga West back in 1993, losing to Carolyn Parrish. More recently, he has been a persistent critic of the CPoC's commitment to its party grass roots when it comes to the matter of nominating candidates. I have chronicled his complaints against the process which produced Melissa Bhaghat here, and is in the process of anointing Lisa Raitt, here.
Mr. Conn's recent letter to FreeDominon on the Raitt situation raised a number of issues for me. For example, one FreeD denizen responded to Mr. Conn as follows:
The National Councillors of the CPC are simply acting on the authority given to them in the
"new" party's constitution.
5.3 Electoral district associations shall comply with such requirements as to their governance, financial management and reporting, as may be implemented by National Council by by-law or otherwise.
The term "or otherwise," pretty much covers anything Don Plett or Doug Finley and company might want to do. If conservative members don't like their constitution they should either work to change it or rip up their membership and quit supporting the party.
(Note: CPoC Constitution and other backing documents can be found here)
I wanted some response from Mr. Conn to this comment.
Secondly, Mr. Conn had written:
National Councillors know full well what's going on....
[...]...they can read the media accounts that relate the destruction being wrought, not just in southern Ontario, but also in Quebec, the Maritimes, Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. just in the last year. And probably three time as much damage is being done in ridings lacking the juice to fight back or get media attention.
And I wondered where some of these other riding associations might be.
So I emailed Mr. Conn! The following is an annotated version of our exchange, which he has allowed me to publish here.
On the first point, and to summarize, Mr. Conn believes that, since the Rob Anders affair (wherein Mr. Anders won his riding nomination by means contrary to Conservative Party rules) , the CPoC consititution has been altered so as to kneecap decision-making on the part of local riding associations. He notes that, before changes made in July 2007, the Constitution contained the following clause:
2. e. The CNC shall: i. conduct a fair and effective recruitment, nomination and selection process etc. etc. etc.
...which post July 2007 has been changed to
2. i. The CNC shall administer a candidate nomination and selection process etc. etc. etc.
Mr. Conn writes:
This was just one of the many changes made to the Rules and Procedures following the Anders case in Calgary. They were designed by PoliOps, accepted by National Council and effectively render riding associations otiose.
Just to throw in another, particulary nasty example:
8.b. National Council may alter, abridge or suspend any of the Rules as it sees fit.
...which is also from the "Candidate Nomination Rules and Procedures", July 2007 version.
On the second point (in which ridings specifically is Tory HQ trampling over the rights of local riding associations), Mr Conn wrote to me as follows:
Vancouver Quadra (both parties), Calgary West, Wild Rose, an "Eastern Townships" riding (unnamed) in which David Marler, a Knowlton lawyer, was told he wasn't wanted as a candidate after months of informal campaigning. The party preferred Mark Quinlan, aide to Christian Paradis, secretary of state for agriculture, Casey case in Nova Scotia. A hasty search of my files couldn't locate the Manitoba case and since I'm leaving on vacation in a couple of days, would ask you to excuse that one omission.
It looks like most of the instances of "parachuting" are occurring in southern Ontario, but, my speculative bet is we're only seeing reports of about one-third.
Six cases is one third of 18. So, even assuming a little exaggeration on the part of Mr. Conn, we are talking about over a dozen ridings where CPoC HQ is stomping all over the rights of its Membership.
(Note: anyone with an idea of which Manitoba riding Mr. Conn might be talking about, please let me know).
By the way, CharlesConn is not exactly your standard issue Tory. His views on homosexual rights, for example, have been strongly influenced by his observations of gay pets and livestock.