Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Burlington Tories: Our Foot? Where? Let's Shoot It!

I've written a small article before about the internal turmoil that Burlington's Progressive Conservatives often find themselves in, the latest being questions over current MPP Joyce Savoline's replacement on the ballot for the October election. It was fun enough when there were simply rumours about movement behind the riding association and Savoline; now it's simply all out in the open.

Let me make this simple: the current PC candidate here is Jane McKenna, a local businesswoman whose only entrance into politics was a poor fifth-place showing in the 2010 municipal elections. Not exactly the greatest pick ever, but in a riding where you've been in control for the past four decades, you don't necessarily need a great choice. Burlington is a fairly natural blue colour.

However, the problems come from the fact that McKenna was by far the least qualified candidate, but she ended up being the only candidate after various assertions from Hudak Headquarters that other candidates were simply unsuitable, and other candidates simply dropped out after realizing the game being played.

There were three other considered candidates that were taken seriously for the nomination: Brian Heagle, another middling candidate (former Liberal) who ended up a poor second in the 2010 municipal elections due to a poor run campaign, but who has the distinction of being "Citizen of the Year"; Rene Papin, a past PC riding association president with strong local roots and a big presence; and Brad Reaume, a candidate for the nomination in 2007 and some sort of assistant to Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh. Your standard collection of local candidates.

Here's where it starts getting odd. Apparently Reaume, who was green-lighted by PC HQ in 2007, was turned down approval this year for some reason - no one knows why. However, he was cut out and went on with his life.

Next came Papin, probably the strongest of all candidates considered. A very likable guy to be sure, and he's been involved in the association for years, near as I can tell (again, he was a president of the EDA). However, in May of this year, Papin came out with this statement:
“I have been advised that my candidacy, at this time, does not fit the strategic direction of the party, and that it would be in the best interests of the party if I were to withdraw."
What does that even mean? Papin is a pretty big presence in Burlington and would have received easy acceptance from the local Tories - however, because these ideas don't fit in with Hudak HQ's "strategic direction" he was cut out. I've heard some accusations it was over his skin colour, though I don't buy that kind of nonsense; but this makes for a really curious case of exactly what the heck the party's "strategic direction" is.

Finally we come down to Heagle. Ah, Brian Heagle. What can I say about this Genco/Rossi-molded gentleman? Not a heck of a lot of good things, to be honest. So I won't say anything.

However, Heagle, after abandoning the Liberals and waiting a huge amount of time for this nomination process to get through, abruptly abandoned his quest. Some postulate it just took too much time; I doubt that, severely. When you know when the election is going to be, you plan your schedule for the nomination with that in mind. So why exactly would Heagle drop out of the race because of some sort of time-sensitive reason? If he was going to go for the nomination and get it, he'd have to plan for that. It doesn't add up.

I suspect Heagle was given a similar treatment that Reaume and Papin received. Outside of some major, last minute business deal for him, there's no other reason; he was either turned down, or stalled until he realized what was going on.

And then, out of nowhere, McKenna comes and takes the nomination, quick as a bunny on crack. No one I know even suspected her of wanting the nomination. So what gives? Why would this lacklustre, no-name candidate receive such awesome treatment when three other candidates with oodles better qualifications and probably stronger roots were swooning for the nomination?

I don't know, I don't care - all I know is that it's going to help the Liberals in this riding for sure. Between McKenna and the NDP candidate Peggy Russell, a school board trustee with about as much credibility as Ruth-Ellen Brosseau (bad example?), our candidate Karmel Sakran will be sailing down easy street this campaign.

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