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Archive for October, 2013

By-election slates, Bourassa bombshells, and polls out Monday

October 20th, 2013 | 16 Comments

The three major parties will have full slates in place by Sunday, with the Greens adding a fourth candidate and losing their first one over the last week, as four federal by-elections are set to be called in the wake of the Speech from the Throne.

With Conservative-appointed Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau now on suspension from the Senate, a Canada-Europe trade agreement (CETA) initialed, and all four government party candidates in place, the Prime Minister may may not have a better time to pull the plug than now.

A Sunday call this week would place Election Day on or after Monday, November 25 – similar timing to previous fall by-elections called on this government's watch, and consistent with what Conservative candidates in Manitoba were told to expect several months ago.

The only wrinkle in the case of Bourassa is the sound of drumbeats from the provincial capital, where speculation is growing rather than receding about an impending Québec provincial general election call on November 6 for December 9.

This begs the question of whether the PM might call the one Quebec riding on a different timetable from the other three ridings. He can call Bourassa as late as November 30 for an Election Day on or after Monday, January 6. But pushing the Manitoba by-election dates much past the end of November increases the difficulty of conducting winter balloting in prairie ridings, an extra impediment the Conservatives will hardly want introduced into the already-complicated situation for them in Brandon-Souris.

Since our last update, the Liberals and Greens have both completed nomination contests in Brandon-Souris, the Bloc Québécois has announced a candidate for Bourassa, the Pirate Party leader has stepped away from a run in Toronto Centre, the Greens have announced a candidate for Provencher, and lost their Deputy Leader and appointed candidate in Bourassa – though perhaps only temporarily. The NDP meanwhile is set to officially pick its fourth and final candidate in Provencher Sunday.

Also Forum Research is set to release polling results from all four ridings on Monday, though they may have been in the field in the middle of the brouhaha in Bourassa, and also may not have realized who the Bloc candidate was in time to test him by name.

We'll focus our latest by-election news round-up on the Bourassa bombshell of the past week.
 
Bourassa, QC
 
On Wednesday night, Georges Laraque confirmed to the Canadian Press a report from Quebec sports network RDS that Longueuil police had charged him with five counts of fraud earlier in the day. The Green Party deputy leader and designated Bourassa by-election candidate is to be arraigned Tuesday, November 19 on the charges, which were recommended by the Quebec director of criminal and penal prosecutions following a 16-month investigation, but were laid by summons (meaning that Laraque was not arrested).
 
While political reporters have covered Laraque's reaction and the political fallout fully, the best coverage of the charges themselves is found in the RDS story on the sports network's website. Laraque told RDS that he had refused to meet with the Longueuil investigators during their inquiries, but that all the evidence vindicating him would come out at trial, and that's why he was happy to talk to as many journalists as possible.

George Laraque est soupçonné d’avoir fraudé Marc Filion, l’un des deux associés avec qui il a fondé, en 2009, la compagnie Super Glide Canada qui distribuait des patinoires synthétiques construites en Floride, d’une somme de 50 000 $.

Selon des informations dignes de foi obtenues dans le cadre de l’enquête, Laraque aurait détourné cette somme des coffres de la compagnie pour la remettre à des membres de sa famille. L’enquête policière aurait déterminé que les deux personnes à qui l’ancien joueur prétendait avoir remis les 50 000 $ n’ont jamais vu cet argent.

Les deux autres accusations sont reliées à la vente, en 2010, de deux patinoires à un homme d’affaires d’Ottawa. Ayant négocié directement avec l’accusé, la victime a expliqué aux enquêteurs avoir acheté une première patinoire pour une somme de 57 000 $. Il en a acquis une deuxième que l’accusé lui aurait vendue pour la somme de 15 000 $ pourvu que la transaction soit effectuée en argent comptant. Un reçu signé de la main de Laraque confirmerait d’ailleurs cette deuxième transaction.

Croyant être propriétaires de deux patinoires qu’il avait payées, l’homme d’affaires de la capitale fédérale a réalisé qu’il s’était fait flouer lorsque le partenaire de Laraque – Marc Filion – l’a contacté en 2011 pour reprendre possession des deux surfaces synthétiques. Selon les prétentions des victimes, Laraque aurait vendu les patinoires à l’homme d’affaires alors qu’il avait prétendu à son partenaire les avoir laissées en consignes, en guise d’outil promotionnel.

« Tout ça est faux et je vais le prouver. Cet argent était à moi », a plusieurs fois répété Laraque lors de sa conversation avec le RDS.ca.

« Je suis accusé parce que ce n’est pas à la couronne, mais à un juge de déterminer de ma culpabilité ou de mon innocence. L’enquête a permis aux policiers d’apprendre certains faits qui sont très mal interprétés. Je comprends qu’ils m’accusent, car ils n’ont qu’une version des faits. Une fois ma version et celles de mes témoins entendues, les accusations tomberont rapidement. Je te l’assure. En fait, ils réaliseront tous qu’ils n’auraient jamais dû les déposer. J’espère que la police déposera ensuite de vraies accusations de fraude contre Marc Filion que je poursuivrai également au civil pour atteinte à ma réputation. Si j’étais coupable de quelque chose, je me cacherais ce soir. Mais je veux parler au plus grand nombre de journalistes possible, car je veux que les gens sachent que c’est de la foutaise ces accusations. »

Longueuil police raided Laraque's home in Brossard back in January, 2013 following a complaint they received in April 2012. Ironically, that complaint was either laid by Laraque himself, or came in reaction to the complaint he says he filed with police at the time about the activities of his then-business partner Marc Filion. Meanwhile, their US supplier of synthetic ice rinks Perry Boskus also provided details to the police in Canada and the US about transactions he called "unethical business practices" in a July 2012 news release, though he retracted the accusations of fraud in an interview with QMI's Giuseppe Valiante the next day, calling them "premature".

In his first interviews with RDS and CP this past week, Laraque insisted that he could carry on with his campaign in Bourassa, although he did concede that canvassing would be harder, as he would "have to spend a lot of time offering explanations, to reassure people. I'll have to explain that this isn't the Charbonneau commission and this has nothing to do with the Mafia".

By Thursday, however, a little more common sense was brought to bear, with Laraque agreeing to step down "temporarily" as both deputy leader and nominated candidate in Bourassa, in a release issued by party headquarters.

A big part of the Green Party's pitch to voters is that they "do politics differently", and that is certainly the case here, because leader Elizabeth May's management of this whole affair is a real head-scratcher to most experienced political hands in the other parties. The party was set on running Laraque in Bourassa last spring, when they conducted exploratory opinion research to see how his candidacy would play in the riding. But this was a year after fraud accusations were traded in public and competing civil suits were filed, and three months after a search warrant was executed on Laraque's home, clearly implying a criminal investigation.

Since then, in addition to the cost of the poll, the party has invested in branding and design, signage, a web presence for Laraque in both english and french, at least three months of rental on a ground floor office in a low-rise condo building in the riding, phones, office equipment and furniture, staff costs for at least two paid organizers, and printing literature. For a small party facing the imminent sunset of the public subsidy, and badly wanting another success in their beach-head strategy before the next election after nearly tasting victory in Victoria, this was not a small investment of time and resources to make.

But it was made in such risky circumstances, either without proper vetting of the candidate, or a proper risk assessment of the situation. Now none of those expenses will be rebate-able, if Laraque's name does not appear on a ballot, whereas the value of at least those expenditures used later in the writ period would have been rebated at 60% assuming at least a 10-point vote-share.

Moreover, May herself has completely wrapped her arms around Laraque politically, saying she has "complete confidence in his innocence" and even saying the party would welcome him back should the charges be dropped and/or resolved before the by-election is held. May is also holding the second deputy leader position open for Laraque to return once he's exonerated. She does not seem to have considered the risk she's just exposed her party to, in the event that he is not. And then she flew from BC to Montreal to appear by his side at a news conference, dragging the story out for yet a third day.

CTV Montréal has posted the raw footage of nearly their full news conference Friday morning, which is worth watching in its entirety for May's completely different take on how a leader should handle cases such as these. She said she hopes Laraque can come back as a by-election candidate, but is leaving the decision about whether to run another Green in Bourassa completely up to the riding association. She invoked her standing as a lawyer to say they had considered the matter to be a "private dispute between two business partners", and claimed to have been "shocked" that criminal charges were laid, defending the decision to have him announce a run in July as a "great decision", but saying the timing was just "unfortunate". Laraque for his part said that it never occurred to him that the search warrant on his home could lead to criminal charges, and if he had thought it would, he never would have run.

[Click on screencap to open link with the raw video]

Green Party leader Elizabeth May appears at a news conference with former Bourassa candidate Georges Laraque, October 18, 2013

Anyways, to a lot of people "new politics" is looking like "naive politics" right now. Of course, none of the charges have been proven, and Laraque will have his day in court. But the Green Party is only going to have so many openings to perform well in a by-election between now and 2015. They threw everything into Bourassa for this round, and lost the whole big green gamble, tying their party's reputation and leader's judgement to an outcome they have absolutely no control over, which is why everyone else is left shaking their heads.

Almost unnoticed between all the machinations of the Montreal municipal elections and the pre-election manuevres in Québec City, the Bloc Québécois also announced their candidate for the Bourassa by-election: Hochelaga resident and former chair of the Montréal school board (commission de scolaire), Daniel Duranleau. Duranleau would have been appointed by leader Daniel Paillé as the party has never had a registered electoral district association in the seat, but party sources told le Journal de Montréal that they had "high hopes" for his candidacy. He stepped down from the school board in June. Duranleau is now the only white francophone candidate in the race, though in the wake of Laraque's resignation, NDP candidate Stéphane Moraille asserted the riding was now a "two-way race". On the day his candidacy was announced, Duranleau gave an interview to CHOI RadioX, where the interviewers felt he skated around the issue of the charter and Maria Mourani's expulsion a bit too much. The party has already set up a campaign office in the premises of the former Little Venice restaurant.

This would appear to complete the slate of candidates for the major parties in the riding, subject to any further decisions taken by the Green Party and their riding association here.

Toronto Centre, ON

Pirate Party leader Travis McCrea announced last week that he would be stepping back from the by-election campaign and taking a leave from his role in the party in order to wrestle down some personal demons. He's written a powerful essay on the importance of facing depression head on, and we commend his courage and wish him well in his healing.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May poses with Toronto Centre NDP candidate Linda McQuaig, at the Toronto book launch of Susan Delacourt's "Shopping for Votes", October 10, 2013I made a tour of the Liberal and NDP campaign offices last week, and can report that both campaigns are revving up, have their first piece of literature ready, and have foot canvassing well underway. Later that night, Green Party leader Elizabeth May posed for photographs with the NDP's Linda McQuaig at Susan Delacourt's book launch, before heading off to an event on her "Save Democracy from Politics" tour with her own candidate John Deverell. I had hoped to meet Deverell at the launch, but missed out in the crush (Susan is one popular lady at U of T, and the room was pretty crowded). I'll have to catch up with Deverell and Conservative candidate Geoff Pollock on a future visit. Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland and her campaign have been getting plenty of attention from Justin Trudeau, and indeed the popular Liberal leader has been spending most of his time campaigning in the four by-election ridings before the House returned for the Throne Speech, while Pollock had cabinet minister Kellie Leitch in to co-host a fundraising breakfast the day I was in town. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is expected back in Toronto soon as well.

A little bird told me that Forum Research was polling in the riding on Thursday of this past week, a fact which Forum has now confirmed, saying the results will come out on Monday.

Provencher, MB

The Greens confirmed that their previous candidate, Janine Gibson, will be running for the once again. Gibson, who hails from the Pansy area, will be running to raise the importance of green issues, and to keep politics out of democracy, she told SteinbachOnline.com.

The NDP will formalize the nomination of their candidate, constituency assistant and former Parliamentary Page Natalie Courcelles Beaudry, at a meeting Sunday.

This would appear to complete the riding's slate of candidates, though I'm not ruling out the possibility of a run by the Christian Heritage Party.

Brandon-Souris, MB

Rolf Dinsdale appeared to recover his mojo sufficiently to win the Liberal nomination over very recent recruit to the party, Killarney-Turtle Mountain mayor Rick Pauls, who nevertheless pledged to support him once the vote was over. The meeting numbered some 200 attendees, with 156 eligible to vote, the Brandon Sun's Jillian Austin reported (stories no longer in the paper's online 7-day archive).

Meanwhile, Boissevain's Dave Neufeld won the "overwhelming majority" of the 25 eligible voters at the Green nomination meeting on the same evening, defeating Lynwood Walker, while a third candidate Layne Tepleski withdrew from the race because of a conflict with his job at the CFIA.

Again, these two nominations complete the slate of candidates for the riding, pending the possible entry of a Christian Heritage candidate.

The Liberals are high on their chances in this riding, with Justin Trudeau making a special point of mentioning communities in both Brandon-Souris and Provencher in his lead-off question in the first Question Period of the Commons session. However, I think the Liberals may have made a strategic error in recruiting Pauls to run for their own nomination, rather than leaving him to run as an Independent candidate. A few columnists have even floated pursuing this idea again, as a way to split the Conservative vote; but it hardly seems genuine to do so now, after running for the Liberal nomination and pledging support for the winner. It seems to me that those kinds of gimmicks often backfire.

Meanwhile, there are numerous reports of heavy Conservative phone-banking into the riding over the past two weeks, asking voters if they would support Conservative candidate Larry Maguire in a "hypothetical by-election". Depending on the results of those calls, we will be into a full-fledged by-election campaign sooner or later.

——————-

And that's all I've got for now on the by-elections. More coverage as warranted, or when they're finally called.

UPDATED: NDP, Liberals and Greens set Nomination Meetings as By-election Countdown Continues

October 3rd, 2013 | 13 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

The Liberals and Green Party will both hold nomination meetings in Brandon-Souris next Wednesday, October 9, while the NDP will nominate its fourth and final candidate in Provencher on Sunday, October 20.

UPDATE: Tim Naumetz is reporting in The Hill Times tonight that, indeed, former Conservative party supporter Rick Pauls has been green-lit to run for the Liberal nomination in Brandon-Souris. So next Wednesday's Liberal nomination will be contested after all. "The requirement is that you be a member and supporter and completely committed to the party at the time you are nominated," Liberal M.P. Ralph Goodale told Naumetz.

After picking candidates at contested nomination meetings in Bourassa, QC on September 25 and Brandon-Souris, MB on September 26, the NDP is now sitting at three candidates nominated, as are the Liberals after their September 25 acclamation in Provencher, MB. The Conservatives have a full slate of four by-election candidates in place, while the Greens have two.

This leaves a hole in the Green ticket in Provencher, and so far still no evidence of a Bloc Québécois candidate in Bourassa, as we run down all the nomination news since last time.

Bourassa, QC

Bourassa NDP candidate Stéphane Moraille celebrates her victory, September 25, 2013 (photo: @pierrelucdaoust)

Pop singer and lawyer Stéphane Moraille beat PSAC vice-president Larry Rousseau and 2011 candidate Julie Demers in a packed and energetic room of 140-150 in Montréal-Nord, the same night that Projet Montréal was launching its city-wide municipal campaign further south at the Vieux-Port last Wednesday.

Moraille joins ex-NHL player, green products frontman and Green Party Deputy Leader Georges Laraque, chartered accountant and former Viau PLC MNA Emmanuel Dubourg for the Liberals, and architectural technician Rida Mahmoud for the Conservatives. The first three were born in Haiti or have Haitian roots, while Mahmoud originates from the Ivory Coast though he is a member of the Haitian young chamber of commerce.

Still to nominate, but intending to do according to this recent riding profile in Le Journal de Montréal, is the Bloc Québécois. Needless to say, with four vis-min candidates in the race already and the Quebec values charter debate brewing, it would not be a stretch to expect the Bloc to nominate a pur-et-dur francophone here, even if it is a very allophone riding and right next door to Maria Mourani's seat.

Candidate Bio Twitter Facebook
Emmanuel DUBOURG ELECTED – Former Viau MNA, Haitian emigré @EmmanuelDubourg 3,079 Page
Georges LARAQUE APPOINTED – Former NHL player, Deputy Green leader @GeorgesLaraque 136 Page, Profile
Rida MAHMOUD ACCLAIMED – Architectural technician, hails from the Ivory Coast   53 Page, Profile
Stéphane MORAILLE ELECTED – Lawyer, musician/singer @S_Moraille 723 Page, Profile
{BQ} Identity will be made public at an "opportune time"      

Moraille, probably from her years as a performer, has a real presence on stage and, courtesy of her legal training, commands a scrum as expertly as Dubourg did the month before, though with a more emotional approach. The two will make for a very interesting contrast between the poet and the accountant. I suspect they will both be skating circles around their less polished Green competitor, if not on the ice, at least during all-candidates debates. I haven't observed the Conservative in action yet, and so don't have an opinion on his political skills.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May has been in to campaign with her candidate, as has NDP leader Tom Mulcair with his, the day after the NDP nomination. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau already campaigned with Dubourg, but I haven't seen further events scheduled for him there since then. Steve Blaney will be attending a fundraising cocktail party with Mahmoud on Thursday night.

Meanwhile the campaigns are slowly but surely getting their web and social media presence assembled, and their campaign offices open. It's hard to see how their campaign signs are going to compete with all the municipal campaign signs I saw up when I was there last week, but the street poles in Bourassa (where they put their signs in a Québec election campaign, rather than on people's lawns) are going to be very colourful indeed.

Toronto Centre, ON

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and Federal Finance and GTA political Minister Jim Flaherty celebrate a $1 billion federal contribution to build Scarborough subways and LRTs, September 23, 2013 (photo: Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press)The appearance of the Prime Minister with the Mayor of Toronto on Sunday, September 22, followed by an appearance with Finance Minister and GTA political minister Jim Flaherty the next day to announce federal funding towards the Scarborough subway and LRT, did not go unnoticed by Conservative candidate Geoff Pollock, who issued a news release casting the announcement as a $1 billion investment in Toronto's future through TTC expansion.

The Scarborough subway debate is an enormously complex and contentious debate, for those of you who weren't following it all summer. It figured prominently in the City of Toronto's budget debates, the provincial Scarborough-Guildwood by-election, and the aftermath of those provincial by-elections at Queens Park, made all the more problematic by the precarious political and possibly legal situation of Mayor Ford.

Basically the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) had a fully-funded transit expansion capital plan prepared and approved by all three levels of government, which included all light-rapid transit (LRT) for Scarborough. LRT is 10 times less expensive than building subways (which will run into several billion dollars or more), and LRT can have more stops along the route than subways. According to Mayor Ford, however, people in Scarborough were telling him, "Rob, we want subways, we don't want LRTs", mainly because they thought that the LRT tracks would take up two lanes of traffic (feeding his cars-vs-transit rivalry, though the plan was in fact to run them in unused railway corridors). Switching to subways from the already-approved LRT plan would also grind the entire TTC capital plan to a halt, and could only have been managed with a) more money from the province, b) more money from the feds, and c) new municipal taxes, not to mention d) a further delay in any TTC construction in Scarborough, whose residents to this point are taking buses to the edge of the old City of Toronto before they can transfer onto a subway line, and will be continuing to do so now for at least the next decade with this new delay. Meanwhile no money would be left over to help relieve the new pressure on the downtown Toronto subway lines.

Toronto City council eventually voted to back Ford's gambit on the Scarborough subways, with the progressive Scarborough councillors backing Ford because his subway idea was suddenly so popular amongst their constituents. The province subsequently agreed to the subway plan (and their candidate in the Scarborough-Guildwood by-election who had campaigned in favour of the previous TTC plan in her earlier job, switched her position and came out in favour of subways for Scarborough), but it did so without the extra money needed, so now the Mayor really needed his federal allies on board.

That the Prime Minister and Finance Minister have stepped in Sunday and Monday to help their friend in a Scarborough/suburb-vs-Toronto/downtown, cars-vs-transit gambit, with $1 billion for the Scarborough subway plus LRT lines, might be considered a negative for their downtown Toronto by-election candidate in some quarters, but Pollock argues it's an investment in the entire city's future. I guess we'll see if the Toronto vs Scarborough tensions come out in this federal by-election to the same extent the Scarborough vs Toronto tensions came out in the summer's provincial one.

Candidate Bio Twitter Facebook
John DEVERELL ACCLAIMED – Former journalist, democratic reform activist, lives in Pickering @Dev4TOCentre 146 Page
Chrystia FREELAND ELECTED – Journalist, editor, Alberta-born Rhodes scholar @cafreeland 3,322 Page
Travis McCREA APPOINTED – Leader of the Pirate Party of Canada @vote_travis 81 Page
Linda McQUAIG ELECTED – Toronto Star columnist, author @LindaMcQuaig 1,343 Page
Geoff POLLOCK ACCLAIMED – Lawyer, Churchill devoté @geoffpollock   Profile

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Linda McQuaig and Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland are receiving a lot of attention from their respective leaders, and former leaders. McQuaig and Mulcair have met to discuss their views on tax policy, and they co-hosted (along with fellow nomination candidates Jennifer Hollett and Susan Gapka) a rowdy pub night to help kick off the campaign, a few days before McQuaig was introduced by Ed Broadbent at the 2nd annual Jack Layton lecture. Former MP Bob Rae was helping Chrystia Freeland set up her new campaign office, and leader Justin Trudeau was in the riding campaigning with her again Wednesday. Trudeau also named Freeland along with Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison as co-chair of an economic advisory panel not long after her nomination.

The Globe and Mail published a very interesting set of side-by-side interviews with Freeland and McQuaig on income inequality, At the time I tweeted that I thought they would make for a good debate as well, but Graham Fox of the Institute for Research on Public Policy had already responded to a similar suggestion from Liberal blogger @impolitical that the IRPP liked the idea of such a debate, and to "watch this space". McQuaig seems to have adopted a strategy of pushing Freeland to defend her views and her chosen party's record on inequality, while Freeland has said she will engage in a debate only within the context of an all-candidates forum. McQuaig repeated as late as yesterday in response to an older tweet of mine that she's "game" for a debate, which makes me think there are all-candidates debate negotiations on-going already.

Meanwhile, Green Party candidate John Deverell filed a complaint with the CRTC that his candidacy had not been included in early broadcast stories about the Toronto Centre race. Of course, to that point, the only event on his website was a notice about an NDP meeting on electoral reform in Toronto-Danforth that he planned to attend and participate in. But later his campaign did start to rev up and generate a bit of its own news, and leader Elizabeth May has booked in a town hall as part of her "Save Democracy from Politics" tour on October 10. Deverell seems far more interested in running on the issue of proportional representation than the environment, though that may change as the issue of the Enbridge west-to-east corridor emerges locally.

Provencher, MB

As expected, ex-riding president Terry Hayward, a farmer from Anola and former federal public servant and agriculture industry representative, was acclaimed the Liberal candidate last Wednesday, September 25 in Lorette, when Justin Trudeau visited the riding to packed rooms everywhere. He has since had a campaign visit from MP Carolyn Bennett as well.

The NDP has now scheduled (and in fact re-scheduled) its nomination meeting for October 20 (from Oct 6), though it will move the meeting up if the by-election is called sooner. So far, the only declared candidate is Natalie Courcelles Beaudry, a constituency assistant and former Parliamentary Page, and that's all I really know about her right now, except that she has been involved with a francophone charity in Lorette.

They will join already acclaimed Conservative candidate Ted Falk, a business owner and credit union director. Falk's domain-name is still parked, but no website or Facebook/Twitter accounts are up yet, at least not the campaign kind. Probably more importantly, though, he hosted a barbecue for 250 of his closest friends and supporters this past Tuesday.

Also, after a "chance" encounter between the Liberal leader and a local food bank volunteer on his pot proposals, which was recorded by Steinback online and went viral, Falk issued a released reacting to Trudeau's comments, saying if the government's current measures to control the available of pot weren't working, as Mr. Trudeau claims they aren't, perhaps stronger penalties were required instead.

Candidate Bio Twitter Facebook
Natalie COURCELLES BEAUDRY DECLARED – Constituency assistant, former Parliamentary Page      
Ted FALK ACCLAIMED – Business owner, credit union pres     Profile
Terry HAYWARD ACCLAIMED – Retired public servant, ex-farm org pres, lives in Anola @TerryHaywardMB   Profile

Brandon-Souris, MB

So much needs to be written about Brandon-Souris to catch us up from last time, but given the time and the state of my cold, I may have to rush through it a bit, though luckily for me, Aaron Wherry and Tim Naumetz have picked up the slack in the meantime.

Brandon-Souris NDP by-election candidate Cory Szczepanski, October 2, 2013First off, the NDP selected Labour Council President Cory "the Welder" Szczepanski over their 2011 candidate John "the Engineer" Bouché at their rescheduled nomination meeting last Thursday September 26. There were about 60 in attendance, but as one wag asked the Brandon Sun's reporter, "Is it true the NDP in Brandon-Souris has a bigger nomination meeting than the Conservatives?". Indeed they had.

Meanwhile Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau had been through town the day before, appearing with the man everyone assumed would shortly be acclaimed the Liberal candidate, Rolf Dinsdale. Recall that Dinsdale's main competition, Frank Godon, dropped out late the week before to endorse Dinsdale, citing a desire to do what was right for the party, and the need to take care of his ailing parents.

Killarney--Turtle Mountain mayor and prospective Brandon-Souris candidate Rick Pauls, September 25, 2013 (photo: The Brandon Sun)So, now the Liberals were in the cat-bird seat – being able to mau-mau the Conservatives for failing to have an open, or at least contested, nomination meeting, but not needing to organize such a contest themselves. And – even better – now it looked like there was a grumpy Conservative prepared to run as an independent after Chris Kennedy said he wouldn't – Killarney-Turtle Mountain Mayor Rick Pauls. Oh goody, yet one more name on the ballot to split the Conservative vote, thought the Liberals: "go Rick go!". Pauls was intending to run on behalf of all the people who had bought Conservative memberships but didn't get a chance to vote in the Conservative nomination, surely a noble cause if you're a Liberal.

So noble, in fact, that some Liberals decided to approach Pauls to run for them instead. Meaning that now the Liberals had a contested nomination on their hands. And Rolf Dinsdale had some competition. And was back to one less name on the by-election ballot at the end of the day, even if he did win the Liberal nomination. Talk about unintended consequences.

Around this time, over on the Conservative side, Chris Kennedy told the Brandon Sun's Jillian Austin that he had sent five packages to Ottawa over the course of the nomination contest, and believes the tracking number that made it into the public domain was his final set of memberships, not the nomination papers he swears he sent on Tuesday. Rather than release all five tracking numbers though (perhaps he didn't have them, perhaps he understandably wanted the whole thing to just go away), Kennedy said he was trying to move on and create a new life outside of politics.

But not, apparently, before signing a letter together with the other unsuccessful and/or withdrawn nomination contestant, Len Isleifson, pledging their support to Larry Maguire as Conservative candidate. The letter landed with a thud, and had all the sincerity of a confession signed under duress by a political prisoner, in the eyes of those now determined to characterize the Conservative nomination as a fiasco (though, notably, this does not include all Conservative supporters – or even all Kennedy supporters). But it probably hardered Pauls' desire to run at all, and then his subsequent decision to run as a Liberal, so irritated were he and his fellow travellers about their loss of the right to vote in the Conservative race. A call Pauls reportedly received from now-Conservative nominee Larry Maguire, asking him "what it would take" to win his support, seems to have been the final straw.

Brandon-Souris Liberal by-election nomination candidate Rolf Dinsdale performs solo, September 28, 2013 (photo: The Brandon Sun)So, with Pauls now gunning for the Liberal nomination, Rolf Dinsdale took the evening of the NDP nomination off to go and play music in a local bar, and promptly had what could be most charitably described as a "biography malfunction". Unnamed sources, who nevertheless smelled like teen war-room (I may be mixing up my grunge with my punk, but stick with me), had a bit of a field day with Dinsdale calling himself a Facebook-executive on his bio instead of an-executive-of-a-firm-that-had-the-exclusive-rights-to-sell-Facebook-advertising-in-Canada. Yeah! What was he thinking, when the second one rolls right off the keyboard so much more smoothly than the first (she says, stopping to double-check and see if she made exactly the same erroneous abbreviation … yep; saw-ree). This also gave an opening for the anonymous sources to engage in some other what-should-have-been-blindingly-obvious-it-would-happen-eventually kidding around about the non-abbreviated name of Dinsdale's band and his nom-de-axe, plus highlighting some of the more, uh, non-traditional songnames on their playlist.

Dinsdale needed the missing chapter from his former bandmate's book — the one that should have been written about how to defend your a** from getting kicked in politics — because his first reaction was to tell Graeme Bruce of the Brandon Sun that the whole biznak had left him feeling "rattled" and rethinking if he still wanted to run, owing to some stern – even threatening – emails he received after the first story. The reaction to that interview with the local paper which also went national and seeing how badly the story turned out, however, seems to have stiffened his resolve; and now Dinsdale says he's planning a vigourous run against, not one, but two Conservatives: one for the Liberal nomination, and one for Parliament. Not a bad line at all, though it does slightly undercut his original unique selling proposition as being the Liberal who could appeal to progressive Conservatives. And the process leaves the NDP able to haul out their old chestnut about "Liberal-Tory, same old story" and post links to the Mouseland video yet again ("black cats–white cats"). Brandon Sun editor James O'Connor has withdrawn his unqualified endorsement of Dinsdale, and now says he will vote for whichever one of the two wins the Liberal nomination. Pauls still hasn't heard if he's been green-lit by the Liberal Party yet, but should any day now. Don't try all this at home, kids; politics is harder than it looks from the outside.

Candidate Bio Twitter Facebook
Larry MAGUIRE ACCLAIMED – Arthur-Virden MLA, Souris-born, lives in Virden @LarryMaguire4MP 253 Page
Cory SZCZEPANSKI ELECTED – Welder, Labour Council pres (USWA), lives in Wawanesa @Corythewelder   Profile

Anyways. The Liberal nomination meeting is now scheduled for October 9, with a membership cut-off two days before, with leader Justin Trudeau scheduled to return and campaign for whichever candidate those members select, the following day (October 10).

Candidate Bio Twitter Facebook
Rolf DINSDALE GREEN-LIT – Media exec (Walrus, Facebook, Blue Ant Media), political family from Brandon @RolfDinsdale   Profile, Page
Frank GODON WITHDRAWN – Former teacher & US Marine, Métis heritage, lives in Boissevain      
Rick PAULS DECLARED – Former Conservative Party member; Mayor of Killarney-Turtle Mountain      

Not to be outdone, Green Party leader Elizabeth May went from 0 to 3 nomination candidates in a day or two for a meeting also scheduled on October 9. May will be in Brandon for the meeting, and is hosting a fundraising luncheon earlier that day, and an evening town hall after the nomination. Running are CFIA food inspector Layne Tepleski, greenhouse owner David Neufeld, and retiree and historic re-enactment enthusiast Lynwood Walker.

Candidate Bio Twitter Facebook
David NEUFELD DECLARED – greenhouse owner      
Layne TEPLESKI DECLARED – CFIA food inspector      
Lynwood WALKER DECLARED – retiree and historic re-enactment enthusiast      

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And, I think, that's all she wrote on the by-elections for now. Stay tuned for:

  • a probably contested two-way Liberal nomination meeting in Brandon-Souris, MB on Wednesday, October 9
  • a three-way contested Green Party nomination meeting in Brandon-Souris, MB the same day (Oct 9)
  • an as-yet uncontested NDP nomination meeting in Provencher, MB on Sunday, October 20
  • an announcement, "at the opportune time", of the name of the Bloc Québécois candidate who will run in Bourassa, QC
  • the dropping of the writ, any day between now and November 30 (the last day on which the Bourassa by-election can be called)

Let's re-update the readiness table from last time, to see where the parties are across the four ridings.

Riding NDP Grn Lib Cons BQ
Bourassa, QC Moraille wins Sept 25 3-way contest Deputy leader appointed candidate July 9 Dubourg wins Sept 8 2-way contest Mahmoud acclaimed Sept 16 Leader has ruled out a run for himself; cand to be revealed when "opportune"
Toronto Centre, ON McQuaig wins Sept 15 3-way contest Deverell named candidate Sept 9 Freeland wins Sept 15 3-way contest Pollock acclaimed Sept 16  
Provencher, MB 1 declared candidate for Oct 20 meeting Hayward acclaimed Sept 25 Falk acclaimed Sept 11  
Brandon-Souris, MB Szczepanski wins Sept 26 2-way contest Oct 9 meeting with 3-way contest Oct 9 meeting with 2-way contest Maguire acclaimed Sept 13