More than 140 disaffected party members voted to create a new riding executive they hope will in turn hold a nomination runoff to decide who will carry the party banner for the northern riding of Desnethe-Misinippi-Churchill River in a March 17 by-election.
The move has left provincial party brass shaking their heads, given, they say, that the riding already has an executive and that any final nomination decision rests with senior party officials in Ottawa.
The members at Saturday's meeting — including area mayors and native leaders — also decided to formally petition and write to Mr. Dion and urge he retract the Beatty decision. They will also ask Ms. Beatty to step down and run in a nomination race.
What is really concerning for the Liberals, this mess in Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River threatens to overshadow what should be a big night for the party on March 17. The Liberals are well placed to possibly win the other 3 by-elections, but what happens in this riding has the potential to be the story of the night, undercutting any perceived momentum.
I don't like David Orchard, and I would fully support a concerted effort to help Beatty win the nomination. However, the Liberal brass has shown a complete lack of sensitivity, a disdain for the grassroots, revealed a fundamental problem with the idea of quotas, by unilaterally deciding to circumvent a democratic process. How anyone couldn't see the obvious pitfalls in this approach is frankly beyond me. It seems pretty reasonable to assume that the Liberal brass had full knowledge that local Liberals would react in a negative fashion. That reality should have been factored in too the decision, head office should have backed off.
What is happening now, is a self-inflicted wound, that denotes a worrying sense of detachment. In the end, this controversy has the potential to derail an otherwise stellar night for the Liberal Party.