Friday, November 2, 2007

"Democracy has gone wrong in my Conservative Party," says former Guelph Tory MP

Great coverage today in Guelph's local weekly on this week's ouster of local Tory candidate Brent Barr.

It goes without saying the decision to oust two democratically nominated Conservative candidates hasn't gone over too well for Stephen Harper's backroom manipulators.

The fact both candidates were considered moderates within the party cements the fear those in control of this new Conservative Party are still very much of the old Reform Party ilk.

Ousted because he wanted to raise urban issues in his downtown Toronto riding, the treatment of Mark Warner should concern every urban Canadian. Suddenly, our federal government has decided issues of concern to urban dwellers seem to be of no relevance to the national agenda, or at least the Conservative national agenda. Royson James wrote an excellent piece today on how this move not only writes off Toronto, but all growing urban centres in the country.

But the removal of democratically elected candidate Brent Barr in Guelph continues to mystify. Barr, by any standard, was an excellent candidate, urbane, successful in business, well-spoken, and yes moderate on social issues. There seems to be little reason for removing someone as qualified as Barr.

The last non-Liberal to represent the Guelph area in the House of Commons, Bill Winegard (who served as a cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney's government) probably speaks for most old-time Tories in the area when he said, "I think democracy has gone wrong in my Conservative Party," Winegard said. "Something has gone wrong."

Barr hasn't ruled out running as an independent against whoever the Tories end up appointing to replace him. I hope he does as it would likely bury the Tory appointee's chances in Guelph.

On cue, already the woman Barr beat for the nomination isn't ruling out seizing the crown she lost earlier this year. Gloria Kovach claims she was shocked to learn of Barr's removal this week. But she added she thought this decision, "...would never have been made by the party lightly. So I believe it would have been made in the best interests of Guelph. I don't believe it should hurt whoever the candidate would be."

Whoever is chosen to be the next candidate "has an excellent chance of representing Guelph, because the government is doing a great job," she adds.

Hmmmm....She certainly sounds like someone about to be handed the Tory nod by party brass over the wishes of local party members.

1 comment:

Miles Lunn said...

The chances of the Tories winning Guelph were never really good, but at least a moderate like Brent Barr could have made it competitive, although I am still pretty sure he would have lost. Even though the riding has gone Tory in the past, I should note up until 2003, it included a significant chunk of rural area surrounding Guelph which is substantially more conservative than the city is itself. University towns generally tend to be centre-left, so as soon as Guelph lost its rural component is really when the Tories lost the chance to win here.

As for writing off the big cities, off course it is a dumb move, but the Reform Party has always despised Toronto. Perhaps they should come live down here and they would realize (and I say this as someone born in the West and with all my family living in Alberta and BC) that Torontonians aren't all that much different than other Canadians.