Friday, October 13, 2006

Ignatieff Camp Attacks Rae

So much for old friends:
The Liberal leadership race is getting ugly with Michael Ignatieff's camp urging the party to negate most of chief rival Bob Rae's delegate support in British Columbia.

In an appeal filed Friday and obtained by The Canadian Press, Ignatieff operations director Sachin Aggarwal accuses Rae's senior B.C. organizer of perpetrating "systematic fraud" during the sign-up of potential delegates in the province.

Aggarwal contends that fully 78 of Rae's 111 B.C. delegates are tainted by the fraud and he urges the party to strip Rae of those delegate spots.

Such delegates, he argues "are the uncurable poisoned fruit of fraudulent activity, which the Rae campaign should not be entitled to benefit from."

If Aggarwal's argument is accepted by the party's permanent appeals committee, Ignatieff's lead over his former university roommate would widen by about two percentage points.

There is no question that Rae's organizers in British Columbia didn't play by the rules. However, it is relevant that it was the Rae campaign that brought these irregularities to light and took its own internal action. Cynically, you could argue that the campaign knew these problems would surface and simply attempted to get ahead of the story.

Whatever the motivation, the decision to simply replace the suspect delegates seems like a fair decision. Liberals voted, the delegates are merely representative of their opinions, so in my mind Rae shouldn't be punished beyond what has already been done. Rules were broken, but I don't see how that translates into affecting the overall percentages for candidates. The Ignatieff campaign actual admits this when they attempt to widen the net of suspicion:
Aggarwal also suggests that if delegate forms submitted by Loh were fraudulent, that "raises a reasonable apprehension of fraud by Mr. Loh with respect to memberships." In other words, he casts doubt on Rae's popularity with genuine Liberal members in the province.

That is a serious charge, that shouldn't be levelled without some evidence to support. Did the Rae camp act improperly? It would appear so, but stripping delegates effectively renders the voters judgement irrelevant, and ultimately that is the primary concern.

14 comments:

Dr. Tux said...

As Ignatieff's camapaign is taking a hard hit for his recent comments, increasing nastiness in the leadership race seems to be right on schedule.

Steve V said...

jeremy

"Alex Swann, a Rae campaign spokesman.

He said the timing of the appeal is "odd if not suspicious," coming just as Ignatieff is mired in controversy after accusing Israel of war crimes.

Anonymous said...

It makes sense that if form 6's were frauds then memberships could be frauds too. That means Rae's support was fraudently boosted and he doesn't deserve the spots.

Skip said...

Or the other alternative...

This is a smear campaign being perpetrated by the Ignatieff campaign on their main rival, just when Ignatieff has himself become embroiled in a new mess.

The argument that because some form 6's were improperly obtained, then everything else done by Rae's BC campaign is also tainted is ridiculous. There was an error with one aspect of the BC campaign. Rae's campaign itself realised the problems, and reported them immediately to the Liberal Party, which then took appropriate action.

What this really feels like, is an Ignatieff organizer whining over sour grapes because of their failures, and the failure of Ignatieff, to woo BC Liberals. I mean, if you can't win, then why not smear? Just like Karl Rove says: it's all about weapons of mass distraction.

Skip

Steve V said...

"It makes sense that if form 6's were frauds then memberships could be frauds too."

I don't accept that leap in logic. Does anyone believe that since the revelation about the forms, Rae's memberships haven't been scrutinized?

Anonymous said...

Another Israeli war crime type accusation - no facts provided, but an opinion voiced as fact?

When will they ever learn?

anybody but iggy said...

This is really dumb - Iggy's campaign suffered from plenty of questionablr tactics in Quebec, but nothing ever got done, because the QC Exec is pro-Iggy.

The BC complaint is designed to diffuse the latest Iggy gaffe, everyone knows it will not go anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Fraud is a serious issue, and Rae's campaign has admitted guilt.

What is at question here is how they are punished for forging these 78 delegate forms.

Iggy says the delegates shouldn't count. Rae says there should be a way to replace them.

If the LPC in BC allows them to replace them then Is Rae punished at all?

If the punishment for fraud is you still get to keep the stolen goods - then that sets a terrible precedent.

Steve V said...

"If the punishment for fraud is you still get to keep the stolen goods - then that sets a terrible precedent."

The problem is, if you punish Rae in the way the Ignatieff camp argues, you really just punish voters. Maybe a fine and a public censure, which will translate into bad press, a definite negative in such a close race.

Anonymous said...

Do the rules of the Liberal Party provide for punishment in a situation like this?

No.

Then back off. Why should BC voters be denied their vote? This is not America, and this is not the 2000 Presidential election.

Fight fair or don't run for leadership.

Scotian said...

What I find curious about this is that the main person in the leadership race to profit from the Ignatief stumble on "war crimes" and then Harper's entry late in the week was by all accounts Bob Rae. So now suddenly there is according to Ignatief's team a problem with Rae's of such serious gravity just when Ignatief needs the channel changed? Sorry folks, it feels far more like a desperate diversion than anything else to me, and I suspect that is how this will feel to many others as well. Ignatief has not been covering himself with glory in this race despite his strong delegate support to date. I think he is in a hole and this is only digging it deeper.

Remember folks, I am not a Liberal, have no preference in this race save one: that whomever wins is capable of defeating Harper in the next election and to date Ignatief has given me more reason to not believe this of him then to do so. I suspect that this may well be true with other swing voters in the general public that are paying attention to this race to see whether they can support the Libs next time out to get rid of Harper, especially since Layton has shown himself more interested in stopping Liberals than Harper and his CPC.

We shall see how this plays out, but my suspicion is that it will end up negatively affecting Ignatief more than Rae, unless someone can show a clear criminal act/conduct from Rae's side which from what I have seen so far has not been shown/provided. Indeed, throwing out charges and allegations without evidence/proof to back them up with is a very dangerous game in Canadian politics, unlike American politics where it is done all the time. This leaves me wondering if Ignatief spent so much time in America and following American politics that he forgot/lost contact with how politics is played in this country.

Winnipeg Liberal said...

Kennedy and Dion have joined the appeal.

Ignatieff's camp said they didn't leak it - the appeal memo is distributed to all camps, as per party rules, so the leak could have come from anyone.

It was filed on Friday because there is a 72-hour window to file an appeal and the decision appealed from was made on Wednesday.

Steve V said...

scotian

" I am not a Liberal, have no preference in this race save one"

Who would that be, if you don't mind me asking?

Scotian said...

Steve V:

"...in this race save one: that whomever wins is capable of defeating Harper in the next election and to date Ignatief has given me more reason to not believe this of him then to do so."

In other words my only preference in this race is that whomever it is is able to defeat Harper. I don't really have a favourite. There a few that I like from Brison (fellow Bluenoser and someone I have respected even back when he was PCPC) to Dion to Rae to Dryden. I was willing to give Ignatief time to demonstrate that my concerns regarding his readiness for leading a national party and especially in being able to successfully run for PM against the Harper CPC. I had serious concerns that his time out of country may have left him a bit out of phase with the political realities/dynamics that have occurred during his 30 years out of country. It is after all one thing to read and hear about something happening back home, it is quite another to be living with it all the time because you are home, and Ignatief has shown a bit of a tin ear for the current political realities IMHO.

I'm sorry I cannot give you a more precise answer than that, but I do think any one of the four I mentioned could beat Harper, the question is which is best able to? Rae is skilled as a politician and as an executive from being a Premier. Kennedy is fresh, young, and appears to have a decent grasp of domestic issues from what I have seen. Dryden is not terribly glamourous but he is certainly substantial in his political capabilities aside from that, Dion has a certain charisma to go with his own political history and is remarkably untainted by the worst Liberal scandals despite attempts to smear him with such by the opposition, and Brison has charm, youth, demonstration of putting his principles before ideology/party with his leaving the PCPC when and why he did and I think he has a lot of decent ideas as well.

So I will likely find any one of these folks acceptable to support barring some serious missteps/revelations about them in the pursuit of getting rid of Harper. I'd give the NDP/Layton support in this if they had convinced me they really recognized the threat Harper and his CPC really represent, but as I have said before I do not believe they do. I can deal with Canadian conservatism even where I strongly disagree with it, but Harper's CPC and Harper himself are not traditional Canadian Conservatives they are a clearly heavily American conservative influenced party. American conservatism is in several areas radically different from Canadian, and it is that blurring/obscuring of this distinction that makes Harper and his crew such a threat IMHO to this country's future.