UPDATED: Murphy’s Law and the Conservative Nomination Process in Brandon
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When a normally reticent Conservative Party goes to the lengths of releasing Purolator tracking numbers to counter a growing maelstrom in western Manitoba, you just know the conspiracy genie has gotten pretty far out of the bottle and is not going back in gently.
Popular local Conservative Brandon–Souris, MB nomination candidate Chris Kennedy at first said his nomination application – due two Wednesdays ago – was rejected because it did not include the $1,000 deposit cheque. Later we learn that the application package did not arrive at Conservative headquarters until the Thursday at lunchtime.
Then, as recounted by Brandon Sun editor James O'Connor (behind a paywall):
Kennedy does admit he was pushing the deadline when he sent his package by courier overnight to Ottawa on Tuesday. But he also maintains his application was complete — in every way.
"I'm very shocked and disappointed and a lot of other things," Kennedy told the Sun on Monday, after an emotional weekend trying to come to grips with what I can only characterize as a betrayal by the party he so dearly believes in.
"It hasn't even sunk in yet … If there was something that I did maliciously or … misled anybody then that's a different story, but that wasn't the case here."
Kennedy said that he was told by the party that his nomination application didn't include his $1,000 deposit cheque, a requirement for all candidates.
"Whether I agree with that is another question," he said. "So that's the reason I've been given as to why I'm not a candidate."
Kennedy looked me square in the eye this week and said he recalls filling out the cheque and had another person in the room see him do it.
He says he can't believe he then forgot to staple it to the application form.
Then earlier this week, insiders started to float another theory. If you don't believe the missing cheque allegation, then this application arrived late. The morning after the Wednesday night deadline.
Back to Kennedy and the so-called missing cheque. Last week, he again looked me straight in the face and said he has searched his house high and low and not found the allegedly missing cheque.
But Mary Agnes Welch of the Winnipeg Free Press was able to get the Purolator tracking number, for what she's reporting to be Kennedy's package, from the Conservative Party, and it was published on Twitter by Free Press Brandon columnist Deveryn Ross as 329968575939.
Plug that number into Purolator.ca and you get the manifest of the package. To see the recipient's signature and more details, though, you have to enter the shipper or receiver's postal code. So, I looked up the Conservative Party's postal code on their website, and plugged that in. This showed me the sender's address, and so I looked up the postal code of that address, and plugged that in. Here's what I saw:
[Click on image to open full-sized version]
The manifest says that the original address was "48 RIVERHEIGHTS DR Brandon, MB, CA" (a residential address), the shipping label was created at 4:04 PM on Wednesday, September 11, and that Purolator picked it up from the " STAPLES AGENT PICKUP at 1645 A 18 ST BRANDON R7A5C6 MB" (the address of a local shopping mall) less than an hour later at 4:52 PM. From there, the package made its way overnight to the address of Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa (listed as "TORRIES" on the label).
If Kennedy maintains that he sent the package on Tuesday, would we guess that it was picked up from his house on the Tuesday, and the shipment label was not created and the shipment not sent onwards to Ottawa by the Staples Purolator Agent until the next day? Or did Kennedy drop it off at the Staples in Brandon on Wednesday, thinking it was Tuesday rather than Wednesday? Or was this package *not* Kennedy's nomination papers, but some other documentation (for e.g., memberships) that was sent to party headquarters from his or some other campaign. Those are the only three logical possibilities, given the paper evidence now before us. Someone in Brandon is going to have to do more reporting legwork to figure out what the truth is there. I don't even know whether Kennedy lives at 48 Riverheights Drive.
UPDATE: One Brandon contact says that, yes in fact, this is Kennedy's address.
Regardless, if the rules state that the nomination package had to be received by Conservative Party Headquarters by Wednesday, September 11 at 5PM Eastern, this shipping manifest — if it's the right waybill for Kennedy's nomination package — shows that the package did not arrive until Thursday.
By contrast Larry Maguire's package was hand-delivered by someone flying to Ottawa, a nomination expense that will no doubt be recorded on Mr. Maguire's nomination expenses financial report to Elections Canada when that's due in a few months.
As Mary Agnes Welch reports in the Winnipeg Free Press, the Conservative Party could hardly be happy with the way things turned out. A contested nomination fell by the wayside, some new party members are feeling hurt, conspiracy theories are multiplying by the day on the eBrandon.ca forum boards, and either a local Staples Purolator Agent sat on a package for a day, or a promising young future candidate was proved to be a little clerically sloppy — all coincidentally on the same day the new Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is set to arrive in the Wheat City to campaign for his former-PC Liberal candidate, Rolf Dinsdale.
Whatever the truth, this can't have been the way anyone wanted the campaign to start. Hopefully everyone gets re-oriented onto a debate on the issues sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, the NDP announced last night that it will be moving its own nomination up to this Thursday, September 26 from October 17, in case the by-election gets called earlier than would have been the case with a competitive Conservative nomination. Their Bourassa nomination will be the night before, so all the major parties slates are starting to take shape for the four vacant ridings.