Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why Aren't We Being Told What Happened in #TrinSpa?

Happier times, sort of

As I've said several times on this blog (and it will become more apparent when my post on the Toronto mayoralty race comes out), I am not from Toronto. Which means I am not apart of Toronto's grand Liberal establishment, which pretty much makes up the base of the base of the party. Any part of the Party I've been involved in, especially the Young Liberals, has been dominated from supporters and volunteers from Toronto. It is quite literally the center of the Liberal universe, as much as it pains some people to say that.

One of the ridings in Toronto with the most supporters is Trinity-Spadina, despite it being held for nearly a decade by Olivia Chow and continually declining Liberal vote. In particular, it is a huge base for Young Liberals, most of whom go to one of the three different universities within a stone's throw of the riding. I've met plenty of passionate Young Liberals who like Olivia Chow but want the riding to turn red, and of course the upcoming by-election is their best chance to do that in years. If you think thats a pipe dream by the way, check out the results from the 2011 provincial election in Trinity-Spadina, where Sarah Thomson nearly knocked off Rosario Marchese - it can be done, it just requires Olivia to be gone. Its not a pipe dream either, the 2011 provincial election results in Trinity-Spadina show that.

When Olivia's resignation was announced, one of the first names to pop up for the Liberals was Christine Innes, the candidate there in both 2008 and 2011, who also happens to be the wife of the riding's previous Liberal MP, Tony Ianno. I have met Christine, heard her speak, and I like her as a candidate, as do a lot of Young Liberals. She was obviously a good enough candidate to carry the banner twice for the Liberals, so why not again in a by-election where she has a good shot at winning?

Well, that was what I was thinking until these revelations came out. This airing of dirty laundry in public is not helping our party's image, even though the provided excuse for telling Christine Innes that she can't run is a valid one. If the charges against Tony Ianno are legitimate, its hard not to see Christine being complicit, though I would never say that for sure.

Hell, to be honest there isn't a lot I'm sure about. For one, its pretty much confirmed that there was a request from the Leader's office for Christine to step aside and allow Chrystia Freeland to run in the redistributed riding of University--Rosedale in the next general election. No matter how you try to defend it, that is protecting an incumbent - even if its for a good reason, such as trying to avoid infighting, its still the Leader attempting to protect an incumbent. It does not help that the incumbent is someone who people have previously accused the Leader's office of favouring.

So you can see why some people might have doubts about accusations being thrown towards the Innes campaign. But even further than that, I'm wondering whether or not this was really handled with the care that we should expect from the Leader's office. After all, do we not have proper infrastructure in this Party to deal with accusations of bullying from candidate's campaigns? Why did this not go through the riding association or the LPC(O), but instead straight from the Leader's office? And if there was a process, why hasn't the party been open about it?

I'm not saying for sure what happened or who had what motivation to do what they did. But I would certainly like to! That is why the Party must explain fully the process that they went through to reach this decision, including an investigation of claims made to ensure they were legitimate, and why exactly barring Christine from running in not just the by-election, but even in 2015, was preferable to other punishments. Were there previous complaints? Did Christine or Tony admit it and agree to be barred (that latter one doesn't seem likely, given Christine's response)? Explain yourselves, goddamnit!

I don't think I'm asking for much. I'm not even asking because I'm simply curious. As I said, many Liberals that I've known from that area liked Christine and work on her previous campaigns. Now they're being told she can't run anymore, and there's good reason to be suspicious of an ulterior motive behind it. Would that not completely turn you off supporting the Liberal Party? It would certainly shake my faith.

The only way to avoid infighting is to be open, but I'm not seeing that so far from the very people who keep espousing that same sentiment. Lets back up our talk with action here, Liberals. Lets hear the whole story.


  1. Congatulations on meeting the REAL Justin Trudeau, a fraud in every measure. Most politiicans wait till they're in Government to start breaking promises, Justin refuses to wait, he's breaking them now. The Liberal Party is as corrupt as ever and I hope someday you see that and join us in the NDP.

  2. I confused by your question, since it seems pretty obvious we are being told what happened.

    1. So you take the claims at face value here? Are you not at all interested in the details of what happened?

    2. I do. I have no reason not to, particularly since the complaints were released to the media. I see no value in the Liberals falsifying them. That stuff gets followed up on, so if they fabricated them that will become clear pretty quick.

      Whether or not she was aware of what her campaign team was doing is irrelevant. It is her team and she is responsible for their actions.

    3. I don't disagree, I simply look at it from the view of someone who may be in Trinity-Spadina, worked on Christine Innes' campaigns for years, and are now suddenly faced with this situation. All we have gotten so far is a he said/she said battle, without seemingly any recourse and a possible ulterior motive for barring her from running. This is not a helpful situation, and if I were a previous supporter of Christine, I would be turned off the Party right quick.

  3. I think this was a good move as we don't want history repeating itself with the Innes and Ianno... remember Paul Martin and Ianno being the guy with the knife behind the scenes? And the LPC should allow his wife to run as a candidate when she was complaisant already with him threatening voters to vote for her or else?

    Come on ppl.... what kind of knife fight are you looking for? And why did Innes or Ianno leak this to the media? Shows just how dirty they can play.

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  5. I think any party has a serious structural problem when relatives of former or current members or senior party officials are automatically or often given candidacies. Even if they are deserving it sends the wrong message and harkens back to an era of the Chateau Clique and Compact. It creates an aristocracy that I believe most Canadians would not want.

    From my point of view regardless of the allegations, why would Liberals want Innes to run again? She ran twice and lost. From where I sit that is a more than fair chance and it is time to get someone new. Only the Monster Raving Looney party continually re-offers candidates to defeat. Do Liberals want to become a joke?

  6. Kyle, I think you are right to suspect there is more here than meets the eye.

    I don't have any special knowledge but there are various dots that it is tempting to connect.

    The Liberal nomination contest in Toronto Centre sheds some light on the contest in Trinity-Spadina.You will remember that the party brass unexpectedly changed the sign-up date for new members. This move effectively disenfranchised hundreds of supporters of Chrystia Freeland's rivals, thereby ensuring her nomination.

    The same hand appears to be working in Trinity-Spadina to ensure the nomination of some yet to be revealed Trudeau favourite. Innes had been working hard for the nomination and may well have had it sewn up, partly through the machinations of her odious husband. The party may have thought that she would be a weak candidate, having been trounced by 20,000 votes her last time out.

    They want someone stronger, likely some "star" preferred by Justin (or his handlers.) So they have devised this means of eliminating Innes.

    They might also want to forstal her challenging Freeland for the University-Rosedale nomination in 2015. If Innes were to win the by-election she would have a serious leg up for that nomination. Unlike Freeland, she has roots in the new riding and a political machine. She may well have beaten Freeland who is an ineffective politician who alienates many by her diffidence.

    In any event, Justin's "open nomination" posturing has been exposed as a hoax both in Toronto Centre and Trinity-Spadina. I used to think that there is not much more to him than name and hair and narcissism. Perhaps we can now add cynicism and hypocrisy. I say 'perhaps" because these traits are more likely what motivate the handlers who try to protect this callow mediocrity form full public scrutiny.

    1. Zach Paikin has now withdrawn his candidacy (Hamilton west) due to pressure from Trudeau and the Bay St. Backroom Boys. If Liberals do not respect democracy within the party what assurances do Canadians have that in government they will respect democratic principles? They are acting autocratically. Most Canadians hoped that when Canadaq was given responsible government in 1847-48 this type of electoral favouritism and oligarchic machinations had ended. If the Liberal party does not respect its own members I have little confidence they have the ability to respect Canadians.

    2. Bede, I'd actually wager that Paikin, if he stopped his campaign for any reason other than what he claims, did so because he had little chance of actually winning there. He is hardly a big enough fish for the "Bay St Backroom Boys" to pressure to call off.

      Further, lets not play this game of "oh those dirty Liberals and their scheming ways." Every party, from the Conservatives to the Greens, has had their sorry histories with candidate nominations and backroom dealings. No one expects things to change overnight, or as my corrupted version of the saying goes, Rome wasn't cleaned in a day. If you feel this way about the Liberals, and expect anyone to take you seriously, be consistent and attach it to everyone else.

    3. "I am a strong believer in our country's founding democratic principles, including: Parliament as a place for dialogue, a government that is accountable to Parliament, and party leaders who remain accountable to their respective caucuses (not vice versa). I am particularly troubled by the fact that our leader has discarded some of those principles ultimately in order to protect a star candidate," -Zach Paikin


      The problem is not one candidate it is the systematic use of the leader's prerogative over the course of many decades putting into office or as nominee only those Liberals that support their cause and actively stamping out dissent within the party. The Tories do not have this problem because they have a clear policy toward nominations-not so the Liberals who arbitrarily restrict and promote candidates with little regard for the opinions of party members.

      The problem Kyle, is that if the Liberals do not believe in democracy what do they believe in? The answer sadly is simply power and their ability to retain it. They have no policies, they have a leader who is mostly show and no substance who frankly does not have the qualifications to be prime minister, they do not respect their own party members, they remove senators from caucus but, have absolutely no policy or plan to resolve the problem, they promote the Kelowna Accord that was rejected by Canadians years ago so clearly they have no new ideas in Aboriginal policy (The Kelowna Accord doesn't promote self-government it promotes continued dependence through fiscal transfers in any case). Since, they are hand in glove with big business they should promote it but, alas if they did it would lift the facade that Liberals are a progressive party-they are not of course they are a small "c" conservative party- the hubris and arrogance of many Liberals keep the portrayal of a left of centre image alive that simply does not exist and never has.

      The party is dead Kyle! It hasn't believed in anything except raw power since the days of WLMK. Trudeau was suppose to heal the 40 year rift that his father and Chretien ruthlessly exploited sadly, he is playing the same game of divide and conquer within the party. Unless you work for Miller Thompson and live in Rosedale or Westmount the Liberal party does not hold your interests. The party stands for nothing except the retention of power this has been clear for decades as F.R. Scott wrote:

      How shall we speak of Canada,
      Mackenzie King dead?
      The Mother's boy in the lonely room
      With his dog, his medium and his ruins?

      He blunted us.

      We had no shape
      Because he never took sides,
      And no sides
      Because he never allowed them to take shape.

      He skilfully avoided what was wrong
      Without saying what was right,
      And never let his on the one hand
      Know what his on the other hand was doing.

      The height of his ambition
      Was to pile a Parliamentary Committee on a Royal Commission,
      To have "conscription if necessary
      But not necessarily conscription,"
      To let Parliament decide--

      Postpone, postpone, abstain.

      Only one thread was certain:
      After World War I
      Business as usual,
      After World War II
      Oderly decontrol.
      Always he led us back to where we were before.

      He seemed to be in the centre
      Because we had no centre,
      No vision
      To pierce the smoke-screen of his politics.

      Truly he will be remembered
      Wherever men honour ingenuity,
      Ambiguity, inactivity, and political longevity.

      Let us raise up a temple
      To the cult of mediocrity,
      Do nothing by halves
      Which can be done by quarters.

      The Liberal party is dead because it is unable to elucidate policies that resonate with Canadians, it is unable to articulate what it stands for and hopes to accomplish and because it has placed power above the best interests of Canadians. This is demonstrated in the polls; Harper is very unpopular but, the Liberals hover around 35%-that is not enough to get elected government. People will not elect a Liberal government because the party is vacuous now without even the ability to serve as good managers.

    4. Are you quite done? I don't remember asking you anything about a TL;DR commentary on why the Liberal Party is dead.

      To counter your point, I see what you've brought up as an issue with politics in general, versus just one party.

    5. If you did not read my commentary how do you know I intone the Liberal party is dead?

  7. Kyle, you're missing the point entirely by saying it's nothing the other parties wouldn't do.

    Justin (or more likely his handlers) has postured that he is something new and pure in politics. Marijuana, posting expenses online, cutting loose Senate liabilities, open nominations. etc.

    He put himself on a pedestal with endless self-congratulations. This latest stunt exposes him (and his handlers) as a hypocrite pure and simple.

    The emperor has no clothes. Whether the public fully recognizes this before the election is the crucial question.

    1. I hate to be the cynical one in this group, but I never said I was surprised by this move - I'm surprised everyone else is. My issue is not that the "emperor has no clothes," my issue is that it's time for the broader party membership to tell him how to dress.

      The key thing with Trudeau is that, more than any past leader of practically any party, has actually taken some steps to give us that opportunity, its now our responsibility to use it. Well, that is my opinion anyways.

  8. No matter how people spin it this is a "crisis" that should not have happened. Perhaps the leader should have the right to appoint a certain number or per centage of candidates or perhaps like the NDP a certain number should be reserved for women and or ethnic groups (personally I am opposed to this NDP policy) or perhaps a nomination should last more than one election. Whatever the case Trudeau must develop better people and party management skills so that disagreements are resolved amicably. There are only 11 Liberals in Ontario, out of 107 seats, surely he could have said to Innes "you can't run here but, you can run there". Seems to me there is lots of "open ground" in many ridings that are winnable for Grits-they only hold 6 Toronto seats for Pete's sake so there should be a lot of "open" nominations to choose from!

    If Trudeau is shown unable to manage his own party he will have difficulty convincing Canada he is able to manage the country. I don't think the party is "dead" but, it can't take too many more "illnesses" either. This is not the time to fight the next or past leadership race(s), it is time to pull together and win the 2015 election.

    1. Addendum:
      I don't buy the line that Liberals stand for nothing but power, however, as Kyle or Teddy wrote recently perception is reality in politics. Dippers and Tories can explain what their parties stand for in a sentence or two. Constitutional monarchy, strong economy, low taxes, proud military; income equality, Senate abolition, equal rights for women and minorities. Liberal policy positions are often more nuanced and that opens them up to the critique of "they don't stand for anything" because their policies are difficult to explain succinctly.

      Trudeau has not effectively communicated what Liberals do stand for. The Senate is a good example; the policy is Senate reform should come about through negotiation with the provinces. Good, however, nobody knows if the Liberal party favours opening constitutional negotiations and so the message becomes confused and the perception created is; Liberals are in favour of an appointed Senate.

      It is a similar story for Innes. Trudeau may have a very good reason for blocking her nomination but, we need to hear from the leader why otherwise the appearance is that the Liberal party is a top-down hierarchy with little respect for democracy or members. Without communicating a valid explanation that is what the Liberal party has become.

      I voted for Trudeau because I thought he was the party's only hope. He needs to step up his game now because the way things are going by Autumn 2015 the Liberals will not be leading in the polls!

    2. Great points Pete, I could not agree more.

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