UPDATED: Murphy’s Law and the Conservative Nomination Process in Brandon

September 24th, 2013

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[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

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]

Detailed Purolator Manifest for waybill #329968575939

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.

21 Responses to “UPDATED: Murphy’s Law and the Conservative Nomination Process in Brandon”

  1. catherine says:

    I’m surprised someone would fly from Brandon to Ottawa to deliver a nomination package. Was this deadline unusually tight or just typical scheduling?

  2. Nominations have been open for awhile, Catherine. From the sounds of it, the person may already have been working in Ottawa, and took it back with him/her.

  3. Marion says:

    Now, if Kennedy’s application arrived late, why did CPC headquarters not say so from the start? If it was late, then the fact that it is incomplete (ie, sans cheque) is more than secondary.
    As they mentioned in the story

    “Real meddling would have involved finagling the rules to accommodate Kennedy, said the source.”

    But it seems that they were willing to forgive the tardiness but were hampered by the fact the cheque wasn’t there. Or am I reading this wrong?

  4. Shadow says:

    Marion that sounds about right.

    I’m guessing they were willing to let the date slip a little but the missing cheque meant waiting another day or two to contact Kennedy and get it shipped out.

    Which would have elicited howls of outrage about the CPC holding a nomination open for an extra 4 days for a preferred candidate.

    It would have also begged the question how this guy thinks he can be an MP if he can’t even get organized and is using a ‘dog ate the homework’ excuses.

    Rules are rules and the fairest thing for everyone is to try and stick to them as close as possible.

  5. Shadow says:

    I’m going to retract all my earlier criticism of the way this was handled by the party.

    The problem really does appear to have been on Kennedy’s end.

    One would hope James O’Connor would do the responsible thing and retract his endorsement of Rolf Dinsdale since it appeared to be based on incomplete and incorrect information.

    There’s no longer any rational basis for a Tory to vote Grit. There’s no process to object to, there’s no unfair treatment.

    If Rolf Dinsdale wants to win this race he’s going to have to do it by putting forward a compelling platform that speaks to voters in this riding.

  6. Jonas says:

    I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV) – but I wonder how the letterbox rule would apply in a situation like this.


  7. Dave Mann says:

    The nomination meetings of all registered parties should should be administered by Elections Canada. An individual should not be considered eligible to vote at a nomination meeting until their membership has been submitted and receipt formally acknowledged by Elections Canada. Election Canada should be properly financed in order to fulfill its mandate.

    Registered parties are subsidized by the taxpayers via a 60 percent rebate of election expenses and tax credits to donors of 75 – 35 percent of the donation depending on the size of the donation; therefore, taxpayers have a moral right to dictate to the parties how they conduct their internal affairs.

  8. Jonas, it doesn’t apply to candidate nominations under the Elections Act, which have a very hard deadline of 2PM local time on E-minus-21, so there is ample precedent for demanding party nomination packages be received on deadline. They could make internal rules about FAX receipts, the way Elections Canada does for candidates in remote ridings, but that’s really up to the internal rules of the political party.

    Some people advocate bringing party nominations under the rubric of the Elections Act, and have them administered by Elections Canada. There could be some merit in that – though I bet they would become a LOT more bureaucratic in that case. But Elections Canada has a lot more practice running elections like that (and they sure have a lot of practice being criticized), so maybe that solution would have some attractive features for political parties.

  9. I think Dave Mann and I posted at almost the exact same time! Ha!

  10. Jonas says:

    Of course you know offhand! Thanks.

  11. Anne says:

    I wonder why the attempt to deliver the couriered package to PC headquarters at 8:49 on Sept. 12 was unsuccessful.

    Also wonder where the cheque got to…

  12. I assume because the building was locked or no-one was in the office yet. As to the cheque, if it wasn’t cashed, I guess we’ll never know, but it doesn’t appear to have been the main issue in light of the arrival time.

  13. lori says:

    Having dealt with purolator on stuff for work, many times if it is not picked up by 4pm on pick up date, it will sit for a day to be delivered, they often don’t tell you that’s the case, i had an overnight urgent delivery that they failed to pick up cause truck was full, they did not notify me until i caught while tracking package, ended up in a massive panic arranging for same day with another courier. When dealing with any courier you really need to stay on top of urgent shipments cause they’ll never tell you it won’t be delivered on time.

  14. CdnPolitico says:

    To Marion: From what has been posted here I am not sure the party ever said the cheque was the main issue with the application.

  15. Keystoneman says:

    If an uncontested nomination is an embarrassment to the Conservative Party and it is, why did Conservative headquarters allow it to happen? Surely, Party officials, who are paid to know such things, were aware that Kennedy was interested in contesting the nomination and, as the deadline for receiving nomination papers approached, should have sent a warning to all concerned about filing all documents on time. What if the McGuire camp, too, had missed the deadline? Party headquarters, too, had a stake in the process and now has egg on its face. The whole gang can’t shoot straight.

  16. Setting aside that the opposition parties obviously believe it’s in their interest to drag out this drama as long as possible, how do you know Conservative party headquarters wasn’t diligently communicating with all its declared candidates? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sh*t happens. It did here. But rules is rules. They have a candidate, and now a presumptive favourite to backfill that candidate’s provincial seat as well.

  17. Ron says:

    “Killarney Mayor Rick Pauls, who purchased a Conservative membership in order to have a say in the nomination process, has now announced his intention to run as an Independent in Brandon-Souris”
    Is this information found on rabble.ca accurate?
    and today’s CP release

    BRANDON, Man. – The expected Liberal candidate in an upcoming federal byelection in Manitoba says his online biography is not misleading, but could be changed to clear things up.
    Rolf Dinsdale’s campaign website says he was a, quote — “senior executive at the leading social media network Facebook.”
    In fact, Dinsdale worked for a Toronto company called Segal Communications, which handled sales for Facebook advertising in Canada….”

    Let the fun begin in Brandon-Souris: could a united NDP come up the middle – given these conservative and Liberal by-election train wrecks?

  18. Dave says:

    I think what is now in play is Kennedy pride. A lot of people had a lot riding on his candidacy and its hard to admit to yourself and your supporters that you are out due to your own carelessness.

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