Friday, March 14, 2014

A Charming Bully?

The most remarkable thing happened yesterday.

Christine Innes, a senior political staffer in the Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne, two time federal Liberal candidate in Trinity Spadina, spouse of the last Liberal MP for Trinity Spadina, lifelong Liberal and party loyalist was banned from seeking the Liberal nomination for the upcoming Trinity Spadina byelection. Furthermore, she was banned from seeking any Liberal nomination anywhere in Canada for the next federal general election.

But the oddest part of all was that Trudeau's enforcers actually made a public announcement of Innes's banishment. I've been around politics a long time. I have never seen a party preemptively make a public issue out of the rejection of a candidate. It wasn't enough to spike Christine Innes's political ambitions. Trudeau and his minions felt the need to humiliate Christine Innes publicly.

The Trudeau brain rust tried to spin this as leadership. Unsubstantiated allegations were made against Innes's husband, former MP Tony Ianno, that he had attempted to intimidate people to support his wife's bid for renomination. Trudeau, according to the self-serving mythology, was showing leadership by putting a stop to nasty internal fights.

But a quick examination reveals some different facts.

The problem wasn't so much Christine Innes running in Trinity Spadina - a seat where the Liberals could expect to be very competitive. The problem was where she might run in the next general election.

You see, while the byelection will be on the existing constituency boundaries, the next election will be on new boundaries from the recent redistribution. In the new redistribution, the old Trinity Spadina seat will be split three ways. Of the three redistributed seats, conventional wisdom says that University Rosedale (which also will include a lot of the former Toronto Centre) will be the best prospect for the Liberals.

But a recent byelection in Toronto Centre returned former Reuters journalist and friend of the one percent Chrystia Freeland as a Liberal MP. And Chrystia Freeland, the handpicked protege of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, intends to run in University Rosedale.

Despite Trudeau's empty promise of open nominations, Trudeau and his enforcers have been very clear that Chrystia Freeland will never face a serious nomination challenge. Former Toronto Centre provincial MPP George Smitherman - who actually lived in the riding, with strong ties to the large gay community - had been widely tapped to seek the Toronto Centre federal nomination. After considerable arm-twisting, he was persuaded to stand down in favour of Freeland, who only faced two local unknowns in the eventual Potemkin Village nominating convention.

Now Christine Innes has been banned, not only from seeking the Trinity Spadina byelection nomination, but from seeking any federal Liberal nomination for the next election. And the real reason is that she was not prepared to commit that she wouldn't challenge Chrystia Freeland for the nomination in University Rosedale.

One is reminded of the allegedly missing paperwork involved in the Conservative nomination in Brandon, where backroom jiggery-pokery sabotaged a potential nomination candidate Stephen Harper didn't want. The net result was that an impenetrable Conservative fortress became a nailbiter of a contest.  It is not unreasonable to expect that Trudeau's public assault on the reputation of a previously loyal Liberal may similarly affect the Liberal Party's competitiveness in what was once deemed the safest Liberal seat in English Canada.

What we saw yesterday was a privileged male from the one percent bullying a woman who wouldn't do as she was told.

In other words, Liberal Party business as usual. Ask Sheila Copps.

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