Monday, January 14, 2008

The Saskatchewan Update

Ralph Goodale continues to stick his foot in his mouth. I'm surprised he hasn't blamed ME for anything yet.

Several commenter's on this blog continue to attack David Orchard. None of them even mention the other fine gentle person that was seeking the Sask nomination, Mr. Dorion. What I say to David's foes is this:

THIS IS NOT ABOUT WHO WAS APPOINTED OR WHO IS RUNNING FOR THE NOMINATION. THIS IS ABOUT DEMOCRACY DENIED!

So, from hereon in I will NOT be publishing personal attacks leveled against any of the three candidates for DMCR.

Without further ado, here is the update from Northern Saskatchewan. For those of you that don't know, Doug Richardson is one of the great minds in the Liberal Party and recently organized the western provinces for Michael Ignatieff's leadership bid. I believe he was also the national whip for Iggy at the convention.


Liberal Party members gather to protest Beatty appointment
By Darren Bernhardt, TheStarPhoenix.com
Published: Sunday, January 13, 2008
PRINCE ALBERT
- Ralph Goodale may be one of the most respected politicians in Ottawa, but to many of those gathered at a meeting in Prince Albert on Saturday he was about as popular as a kick in the groin.

Internal strife continues to boil in the party over the appointment of NDP defector Joan Beatty as candidate for a March 17 byelection in the federal riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Chruchill River. A kick in the nether region was suggested more than once as a gift that to be bestowed upon Goodale, the Regina-Wascana MP and former federal minister of finance.

A fired-up group of nearly 200 gathered at the Prince Albert Inn throughout the day to decide how to reclaim their right to choose a candidate. A right which, they believe, was stolen by Goodale. They accuse him of courting Beatty and influencing Liberal leader Stephane Dion to designate her as the party candidate.

By foisting a candidate upon the riding, the Liberal Party has insulted northern Saskatchewan voters, said Jim Durocher, a former federal and provincial Liberal candidate and past-president of the Metis Association of Saskatchewan.

"The north has been for decades on the receiving end of colonial attitudes and unforgivable arrogance," said Durocher, who chaired the meeting with Chief Marcel Head of Shoal Lake First Nation. "Some people are talking about going to Regina to visit Ralph Goodale and kick him in the . . . somewhere."

Another attendee suggested Goodale be taken behind a woodshed and given a drubbing.

The federal party executive was called paternalistic, colonialist, dictators and, as one member stated, "other words we can't say in public."

"It's back to the old Indian Affairs system: 'We know what's good for you,'" said Chief Richard Fiddler of Waterhen Lake First Nation.

Two would-be candidates, John Dorion and David Orchard, were campaigning in anticipation of the Liberal nomination long before Beatty came along.

"I'm encouraged by what the people are doing here. I commend them for taking the steps to reinstate democracy," Orchard said in an interview at the meeting.

Durocher says Dion has slapped them in the face.

Durocher repeatedly emphasized, "this meeting is not about Joan Beatty. This meeting is not about David Orchard. This meeting is about the process that was denied our people.

"There's not a lot of places in Canada where our people have the opportunity for some control. We're not going to let that go," he said. "The people sitting in Ottawa need to understand that. The people sitting in Regina need to know that. Those gurus in government need to know that."

Then he took another shot at Goodale, adding, "That chubby little guy in Regina, who thinks he knows everything, needs to know we are going to take control."

The goal Saturday was to establish a riding association executive - the present one is inactive - and set a nomination date to "democratically" elect a Liberal candidate for the byelection. The room at the Inn was so full that organizers delayed the start of the meeting to push back partition walls and spread the gathering across three banquet rooms.

"Isn't it amazing, the other day when Bob Rae and Goodale and that hockey player guy (Ken Dryden) said it's only a handful of people concerned about this. Well, they had about nine people (at their meeting last week in La Ronge) and look at us," Durocher said, igniting a round of applause.

After being advised that advance notice must be given to create an executive, the group formed an interim committee to work toward that goal. The committee is also tasked with setting a nomination date and meeting with Beatty to request her resignation and invite her to be part of the nomination process.

But some high-ranking Liberals say the interim committee and its supporters are spinning their wheels for naught.

"A nomination meeting won't happen. We have a candidate who understands the northern issues, is respected, and appointed in full accordance with the (party) constitution," Frank Proto, president of the Saskatchewan Liberal Association, said in an interview Sunday.

He blamed much of the "heel-nipping" on people who aren't even party members or from Desnethe-Missinippi-Chruchill River. Colin Fraser, who ran in Prince Albert-Northcote for the party in November's provincial election, estimated 60 per cent of the people at Saturday's meeting were not legitimately connected to the riding.

A petition demanding Dion reverse the Beatty appointment was passed around, but could only be signed by residents of the riding. In the end, there was just 71 signatures, noted Fraser, who attended.

"I find it odd they were talking about grassroots politics and democracy, yet most of them have no real say in the riding," said Fraser.

A number of Saskatchewan Party members were in attendance, including one who used the opportunity at the microphone to encourage disaffected Liberals to switch allegiances. Several others, including Durocher, live in Saskatoon and have not held valid memberships for years, Fraser said.

"It's no wonder nobody (official) from the party came. It wasn't a Liberal meeting at all," he said.

Eileen Gelowitz, who lives in Saskatoon but claims Big River as her home, expressed her support for Beatty but not the appointment.

"If she ran for the nomination, in a democratic process, I would be the first one out there to support her," Gelowitz said.

Goodale has said Beatty's name was put forward by the so-called Green Light Committee (GLC), a group of Liberal members who help organize the party for upcoming elections and vet potential candidates. But Doug Richardson, a Saskatoon lawyer and GLC member - and one time chief of staff for John Turner - categorically denied Goodale's claim. The GLC endorses no one in particular, he said.

In fact, Richardson backs Orchard. He mentioned it to a few people as they entered the meeting.

The interim committee intends to seek representation on the GLC.

26 comments:

The Grumpy Voter said...

Somehow I suspect this wouldn't have become an issue if Orchard were seeking a nomination for anyone but the Liberals.

I listened to Ralph Goodale on the radio this morning, and while I am dead set against appointing candidates, the fact is the Liberal Party's constitution that was adopted in 2006 provides for the leader to appoint candidates in any riding he/she chooses. Presumably those who oppose the appointing of candidates could have fought vigorously against the Liberal Constitution adopting this principle and who knows, maybe they did. The fact is that it's been adopted and those Liberals who oppose it said nary a peep until now. Moreover, if the issue was of such great importance, one would assume they'd rip up their membership cards in protest when appointing candidates was adopted in 2006 - that didn't happen. Do I think there are shenanigans involved to block Orchard from ever becoming a candidate - hell yes! The guy is a political train wreck waiting to happen! But to say that Dion is somehow doing something underhanded when he is simply exercising his right as leader of the party (rightly or wrongly) is really deflecting the issue from what this is really about: David Orchard. Were David Orchard not involved in seeking the nomination, I suspect an appointed candidate would probably go over without a whiff of scandal from anyone.

At the end of the day, it's Liberals hurting Liberals here *assuming you consider Orchard to be a Liberal - which he clearly isn't BTW*

James Curran said...

Many fought to erase "appointments" in Ottawa at the 2004 bi-ennial. The Martinites put that to bed pretty quick though. This isn't about Orchard. It wasn't about Coulon in Outremont either.

Nobody disavowed the recent announcement by the Progressive Canadian Party when they decided to join the Liberal fold. We also accepted Garth, Brison, Belinda, Ujjal, Rae as Liberals. Therefore, I think none of us have just cause not to accept David as a Liberal.

The Grumpy Voter said...

It's about Orchard - make no mistake. But let's just leave him out of the equation for one minute here. The bulk of my comment still stands as factual: appointing candidates is completely constitutional within the Liberal Party. Those who opposed it had/have a choice - quit the party in protest or build enough support to change the rule when the Liberal Constitution is examined again in the future. Clearly they didn't have enough support in 2006, hence the current situation so why all the kerfuffle?

Now back to Orchard. Free Trade is something Canada signed onto. NAFTA is something we signed onto under a Liberal government. Orchard's entire raison d'ĂȘtre is completely contrary to established Liberal Party policy. None of the Liberals you mention have anywhere near a vocal and populist history as that of Orchard. It's for this reason that I suspect most Liberals see him as a significant liability and would prefer the party cut all ties with him.

I feel sorry for Orchard. I applaud his efforts at raising awareness on an issue he feels is destroying the Canadian economy and certainly, the man has done great work at building a popular base of support. But at the end of the day, he's failed twice to become leader of the old PC's, he's been campaigning against free trade for over twenty years and he's been unable to secure a permanent place on the federal scene for reasons that have a lot to do with the cut throat nature of federal politics. It is entirely possible that Orchard's issues are not in line with those issues that are important to most voters these days - they might have been twenty years ago, but they simply aren't any longer.

I think that if he truly wants to establish himself politically, he should focus his populist efforts at the provincial level and use his great organizational skills at building the provincial Liberals in Saskatchewan into something resembling a winnable party. His future (if he has a political future) should be at the provincial level where his brand of populism doesn't scare the living crap out of voters.

Dan McKenzie said...

Difference being that Ujjal, Belinda, Rae, and Brison know that becoming a distraction isn't good for their careers or their party.

Democracy denied? Sounds like a bunch of crap to me.

James Curran said...

Really Dan? May you never live to see the day when one of your friends gets F*cked in a nomination contest.

My Guess? You will....and you're gonna hate it.

Dan McKenzie said...

They are more ways to get screwed in a nomination race, than an appointment.

James Curran said...

As for you Grumpy. You need a Free Trade lesson.

Trudeau's gov't did indeed commission the MacDonald Commission to explore Free Trade. It was Mulroney that pursued that agreement in '85 at the so-called Shamrock Summit. The Liberals and NDP vehemently opposed the idea, but Mulroney had a majority government and debate was irrelevent.

In 1992 Mulroney and Bush the elder signed onto the draft of NAFTA.

How and where you dream up that Liberals supported this is beyond me. Chretien may have signed the final draft, but this was a done deal.

For the record, there are many wise men and women that know NAFTA ain't workin' for Canada. History (if it already hasn't) will show this agreement has been brutal for Canada.

That's an entirely different debate though.

James Curran said...

That's my point Dan.

Dan McKenzie said...

Well one of those ways to get screwed is to resign your provincial seat after a long time pondering the difficult implications of that decision and then get beaten in a nomination race all the same, effectively ending your political career. Maybe Beatty made a bad/weak decision, or didn't time it right, same with Dion and Goodale, but it doesn't excuse silly behaviour from others.

Not that my voice matters in this debate, as a grassroots Liberal, but this just seems like a strange hill to die on. Do they really expect Beatty to resign, or Dion to renounce and run for the nomination? I don't think that's an option and these Liberals know it. It's just about embarassing the leadership now. And David Orchard is fine with that.

Sheesh, I just want to win this bloody seat.

The Grumpy Voter said...

How and why I dreamed up that Liberals supported free trade? Because we still have NAFTA, don't we? So here's your history lesson courtesy of the completely non-partisan Grumpy Voter:

It was Michael Wilson who signed NAFTA on behalf of Canada, October 7, 1992. I remember because it was my 25th birthday. (Do the math - I am likely older than you.)

There was a federal election in this country shortly thereafter and the Liberals campaigned on RENEGOTIATING NAFTA when they could have campaigned on BAILING ON NAFTA. (The Liberals also campaigned on repealing the GST and that didn't exactly happen, now did it?)

When the Liberals won the election, they implemented only minor changes to NAFTA and embraced the free trade concept!

Were the Liberal Party truly against NAFTA, they would have fought a way out of it when they took power. (Kinda like how the Tories are bailing on Kyoto) Surprise surprise, after thirteen successive years of Liberal governments, we still have NAFTA - go figure.

Class dismissed.

James Curran said...

The Politicians in the party should stick to politics. Leave strategy to those that are good at it. If Goodale was good at it, we'd have more than one seat in Sask.

I suspect Beatty's career may not be over. She may be able to run as a Provincial Liberal in 4 years, however, she'll be out of politics as of March 18, 2008 for a little while.

What David is fine with is that when he gives you HIS word, you should keep YOURS. Yours in this case would be a certain leader I supported and the fact that there was a gentleman's agreement in place for an open nomination.

How on earth do you think the people that paid $25 for memberships feel about this? And, they are in the hundreds.

And, just how do you think Ms. Beatty's constituents and donors feel now that she has abandoned them? Not good I suspect.

Dan McKenzie said...

I don't buy the idea that Orchard didn't know Beatty might be appointed. Like I said in mid-december before this situation got out of hand:

"If Joan Beatty really wants to run, and David Orchard really wants to become a fixture and not a distraction within the Liberal Party in Saskatchewan he should step aside and throw his full support behind Beatty in Northern Saskatchewan."

If Orchard wasn't ready to do so Dion probably should have reconsidered appointing her, but I still won't accept allegations of racism, or David Orchard's encouragement of heigtening the problems as acceptable behaviour.

James Curran said...

NAFTA was initially pursued by corporate interest in the United States and Canada supportive of free trade, led by Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, U.S. President George H. W. Bush, and the Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The three countries signed NAFTA in December 1992, subject to ratification by the legislatures of the three countries. There was considerable opposition in all three countries. In the United States, NAFTA was able to secure passage after Bill Clinton made its passage a major legislative priority in 1993. Since the agreement had been signed by Bush under his fast-track prerogative, Clinton did not alter the original agreement, but complemented it with the NAAEC and NAALC. After intense political debate and the negotiation of these side agreements, the U.S. House passed NAFTA by 234-200 and the U.S. Senate passed it by 61-38.

And Liberals aren't known for renegging on international agreements. GST wasn't an international agreement such as Kyoto.

This fraudulent excuse for a government called Conservative is in for a rude awakening one day if the international partners of Kyoto decide to pursue some form of legal action. More taxpayer money to the wind I suspect.

James Curran said...

Maybe Joan can tell us how much she supported our leader in Montreal.

Maybe she can explain how Stephane came to announce Dorion and Orchard as candidates in October of last year.

Maybe she can one day tell us how much of a distraction Goodale was in this process and if he "assured" her of an appointment.

Maybe the party can reimburse membership fees for those who no longer believe this is the party of their choice they chose to try and support.

What is this about racism?

Dan McKenzie said...

"The north has been for decades on the receiving end of colonial attitudes"

"It's back to the old Indian Affairs system: 'We know what's good for you"

And a list of similar comments made throughout this process...

As if appointments have only happened in northern ridings.

James Curran said...

Well. It's true. We, as a party, are telling this riding what is good for them. We know better than they do.

Ms. Beatty is a fine individual I'm sure. Native and all that stuff to her credit.

Dorion is a longtime native activist and sits on the National Parole Board. David is deeply tied to the Metis and his grandparents are burried in the riding.

So, who are we to tell this riding who to vote for?

The Grumpy Voter said...

>>And Liberals aren't known for renegging on international agreements. GST wasn't an international agreement such as Kyoto. <<

Well then, perhaps the Liberals should have campaigned in 1988 and again in 1993 under a slightly different banner. Instead of "No Free Trade" according to your logic, they should have campaigned on "No Free Trade unless there's an agreement in place at which time we won't renege on the deal even if our entire 1988-1992 platform stated that free trade would be bad for Canada."

Yep the GST wasn't an agreement, but it was a campaign promise. So you would seem to suggest that it's okay to break campaign promises because they're not international agreements?

Is it any wonder that voters in this country are completely disenfranchised with federal politicians? I wonder what's more depressing: that we can't trust politicians to keep their word or that people like you continue to make excuses for them. (Unless of course you actually believe these guys, and if that's the case, you need serious professional help.)

Dan McKenzie said...

As a party with a long history in a Canadian political system where the leadership of parties consistenly makes decisions instead of local members it's not out of the ordinary at all to appoint a candidate. But, like I've admitted it may be a mistake to have done it here, or in other situations. But I'm not going to sit here feeling sorry for David Orchard, and a perceived "colonial" act.

For example in Roberval the Conservative head honchos overthrew the entire riding executive and candidate so they'd have an executive friendly to Denis Lebel. And Lebel proceeded to thump everyone in the byelection.

Bailey said...

Well one of those ways to get screwed is to resign your provincial seat after a long time pondering the difficult implications of that decision and then get beaten in a nomination race all the same, effectively ending your political career. Maybe Beatty made a bad/weak decision, or didn't time it right, same with Dion and Goodale, but it doesn't excuse silly behaviour from others.

Not that my voice matters in this debate, as a grassroots Liberal, but this just seems like a strange hill to die on. Do they really expect Beatty to resign, or Dion to renounce and run for the nomination? I don't think that's an option and these Liberals know it. It's just about embarassing the leadership now. And David Orchard is fine with that.


Thanks Dan for summing it up. It's true. Do they really expect her to resign? I don't think they do.

And the strangest thing about all of this is that the guy Durocher who is making the most noise of all doesn't even live in the riding.

lance said...

"Well. It's true. We, as a party, are telling this riding what is good for them. We know better than they do."

No, James, the Liberals are telling LIBERALS what to do. There's more than 50% of the people there who support the other parties and are capable of using their own minds.

But for the record, this _is_ all about Orchard and I'd believe any one of Goodale, Dion, or Dorion over Orchard let alone all three over Orchard.

Cheers,
lance

James Curran said...

Oh boy. I guess we better just tell David he's only good for fundraising, database production and helping people win leaderships , because his kind -and opinions - aren't welcome.

There is nocody in this party more grassroots than David. And I mean nobody. Guess we don't need that kind of organizational skill though.

David, if you're reading this...and I know you are... these fine folks just think you're a cancer.

I guess I should publish the other 100 or so letters of support people from accross the country have sent to me on your behalf. Nah. Then these guys will just say those people aren't Liberal anyway and none of them live in the riding, and it's not like Outremont, Jim Curran isn't a good Liberal, and the pope isn't Catholic, and so on and so on and so on.

James Curran said...

As for you Grumpy...you're just being Grumpy.... ;-)

And, Bailey... I already declared I'd die on this hill.

Dan McKenzie said...

What is the goal of this hill? Dion to unappoint Beatty, and tell her if she wants, to run for a nomination? You thought Dion screwed Orchard...

To force Beatty to resign her appointment, and run for a nomination? This might be a good idea if she felt she had enough support. But again it would make the leadership look incredibly foolish. Plus, she simply won't do it if she can't win. And if you still think she should then you're just too principled for me. At this point I've got to believe there are many people thinking they'll die before Orchard runs here in the byelection. That's the hill they'll die on.

I don't really know enough about Orchard to call him a cancer or even to really judge whether he fits in with this party. I just know he's become a distraction by choice. And when you have an outpouring of "I told you so" from people on dealing with Orchard you've got to wonder.

James Curran said...

The point is, we all stood at the altar of the Liberal Party in Montreal and declared to the world that we were a new brand of Liberal. A Party renewed and of renewal.

This isn't new. This is same old same old.

I agree the party should have the ability to decline a person's application for candidacy. I've never agreed with appointments of one candidate over another when candidates have been approved to run.

Dan McKenzie said...

"I agree the party should have the ability to decline a person's application for candidacy. I've never agreed with appointments of one candidate over another when candidates have been approved to run."

This is something I could probably agree on.

And I understand the issue of renewal, but Dion never said he'd give up the power to appointment. Also I believe that the increased amount of women candidates is an aspect of renewal, and on this point as far as I can see Dion looks like he will succeed in attaining the 1/3 mark.

burlivespipe said...

In 2004 Martin 'appointed' (actually used his power to 'persuade' a couple of candidates to step aside) a candidate in my riding; while I wasn't very ecstatic at the start, once I saw the caliber of person that this was I decided to support him. And over a short campaign (which we lost but put in the closest 3-way race in the election) I realized just how superior he was as a candidate to what we would have put up - as a riding that occasionally has solid second Liberal support but most lately distant 3rd.
Orchard is not being blocked from running as a Liberal; he's been told along with Dorion (who has said he's known for some time that Dion was trying to get a female candidate for that riding) that this riding was one that the leader wished to have a woman in place. What good would it be to have women running in races that are near certain defeats? And when you look at Beatty's credentials, you can see this isn't a case of the leader picking his favourite drinking buddy for a job.
Orchard is free to run in the riding he lives in. And while there are no doubt disgruntled members -- new and old -- in this riding, the fact is the leader has the ability to appoint the candidate. And he did. The members have the option of supporting the candidate or not. And in not, they can choose not to vote for her, make a big stink (which some are), or quit.
I'm a Liberal Party member. My membership card doesn't have any one name on it but my own. While being part of a democratically elected nomination race is an important part of the process, being a team player does not always include that option. I guess we'll see who are the team players now.