Sunday, January 13, 2008


Anyone who thought the controversy in Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River would wane should think again, local Liberals are fighting back:
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.


Mark Dowling said...

And during the FPTP/MMP referendum in Ontario we were solemnly told MMP was bad because the Party would dictate the nominations... uh-huh...

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem is that the party is treating Ralph Goodale like some kind of "mob boss" in Saskatchewan. Ralph said "no way" to David Orchard, and noone wanted to stop his bullying. We are all taught in school that bullies should not win the day. But this is the real world.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think its ridiculous. Sometimes you have to take your lumps. Bunch of whiners. I was sympathetic but that feeling's all gone now.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with the above. Might end up being a bad decision, but doesn't make these Liberals in bizarro world look good either.

ottlib said...

The actions of these folks is illegal according to the Liberal Party Constitution so they cannot choose the Liberal candidate for the by-election. Any candidate they choose will be an independent.

The Liberal Party constitution also states that the Leader of the Party can stop a nomination process and choose a candidate. That party constitution was created and voted on by the Party membership many times over the years. So for some Liberal members to condemn Mr. Dion of being undemocratic for using powers that were given to him democratically is hypocritical at best.

If Liberals really want to stop him from doing it then organize a movement to change the Party constitution. Otherwise, accept the Leader's decision since that is what Liberals elected him to do, make decisions.

Steve, on more than a few occasions you have asked why the Liberals cannot get any traction. You seem to place the responsibility on Mr. Dion. I place it squarely on the Liberal membership for not supporting his decisions.

I have said it once but I will say again; if it were not for the fact we would have four more years of Stephen Harper I would be satisfied to see a Conservative majority government. Maybe such an outcome would finally convince Liberals to focus on what is really important instead of these petty squabbles that seem to crop up every season.

By God, the Conservatives are in tough because of Chalk River and Bali and the Liberals are letting them off the hook over the choice of a candidate in a by-election. A by-election, I would add, the Party only has a 50-50 chance of winning anyway.


Anonymous said...

Why is this story bigger than Harper replacing two conservatives in tune with their riding and constituents recently? I guess the conservatives pull together in a way the liberals don't.

Anonymous said...

" One of two men hoping to become the Liberal nominee in a northern Saskatchewan by-election says he can't believe the attention being paid to his competitor.

Cumberland House native John Dorion says it was his campaign that sparked hundreds of constituents to buy Liberal party memberships, and not David Orchard.

Dorion feels Orchard has been given credit by the media for much of his work, and Dorion believes he would beat Orchard if a nomination vote were held today.

He says he's disappointed with how things have turned out, but acknowledges his people heard months ago that Liberal Leader Stephane Dion might appoint a woman to represent the Liberals in the North."

northwestern_lad said...

ottlib... I think it's a bit shortsighted on the part of your party. The fact is that it may be illegal inside your party's constitution, but what is there to stop them to run Orchard as an independent or with another party? What's stopping Mr. Orchard running on those very same "Liberal" ideas??? Liberal is just a brand name in this case, nothing more. By that time, people will know how he got to be in that position, and the Liberals would stand to loose votes.

And this: "Otherwise, accept the Leader's decision since that is what Liberals elected him to do, make decisions." Wow... that sounds real Stephen Harper-esque doesn't it. Bow to the leader and submit to his power???? Because basically that's what you're saying, which is exactly what Liberals have been condemning the Conservatives for now for well over a year. Now that's hypocritical.

Face facts. The action of having a contested nomination would have taken care of all of this, and would have kept people happy. Instead, doing this gives the impression that Ms. Beatty couldn't have won that nomination. With her credentials, she should have been able to win that nomination rather easily if the people of that riding wanted her. As Steve put it, another self-inflicted would, which is one of the few things that Stephane Dion is really good at.

Anonymous said...

Funny, conflict and chaos seem to follow Orchard - perhaps the reason for the decision.

Can Orchard be counted on to maintain the Liberal viewpoint and policies?

Anonymous said...

Well NW_Lad.. seeing as how your an NDPer and love to slam Libs every chance you get...what the heck do you care anyways? I don't notice you doing anything but sucking up to Layton on every issue. If Dion wanted to fulfill his promise to nominate 33% women and he has to pull some punches to do it well....that's his right as leader.

northwestern_lad said...

Woman at Mile O.... geeze... you really haven't been reading my blog much lately, have you?

I may be a New Democrat, but that doesn't mean that I forfit the right right to comment on other parties, and I doubt that you being a Liberal yourself, you don't forfit the converse right. And I think it's extremely appropriate to point out the hypocrisy in this move. I want to see more women get into politics too, but by doing this, Mr. Dion is basically admitting that someone who has run for the provincial legislature and won TWICE can't win a nomination race against two people whom, to my knowledge, have never once won an election.

Tomm said...

Just all agree that this is a mess and let's move on.

Somebody asked how the CPC does things, well, they move on.

However, Dion's decision was horrible and expect the public to be reminded of that at some point in the future.

The LPC just lost itself traction in places where the "Central Committee" isn't wanted.


lance said...

Tomm, you assume the Liberal party are the ones keeping it going. It was Orchard that flew to Ottawa to tell the PPG how disappointed he is. He didn't talk to local media as Goodale and Rae did. He escalated the issue.

If you think the Liberal rogues in DMCR created a parallel executive for altruistic reasons and not as Orchard supporters you're mistaken.

Think about that. How will the Liberal party just up and ignore it? It's going to be the biggest story of the by-elections and it's going to be Orchard that keeps it there.

He wants his constituency and woe to any person or party that gets in his way.


Steve V said...

Some of the defense here is amazing, did we feel the same about party rules and such when it was Casey and the local Conservative riding members?

And, for anyone to say that you aren't a good Liberal by expressing disappointment in the head office, top-down, grassroots be damned routine, is pure silliness. Last time I checked Ralph Goodale is just one Liberal, his opinion shouldn't be dictated to the masses. Does the rank and file have any input, or are they merely sheep? That is the question here, to my mind.

ottlib said...

"Does the rank and file have any input, or are they merely sheep? That is the question here, to my mind."

Wrong question. The questions should be how much input should the rank and file have and when is the most appropriate time to express it?

Does it run the party or does the leader they elected?

If the grass roots do not trust the decisions of Mr. Dion why did they elect him as their leader?

Is having a mini-revolt useful to the dissidents' cause and to the wider cause of the Liberal Party?

The simple fact is the rank-and-file have two demands of the party that represents them. They want the party to listen to them but they also want the party to win elections. Often those demands come into conflict and it is up the the Party leadership to use its judgement to reconcile them. Just as often they wind up pissing off somebody in the process. It is just the nature of the business.

So this is not about grass-roots vs head office. This is about political maturity. The political maturity to realize that you are not always going to get your way in the party, to accept that fact and try again next time.

Steve V said...


Again, I ask, did you use the same logic when it was Casey, or this an argument of partisan convenience? I frankly see no difference.

Tomm said...


You are being caught in your own web.

Dion could fix this, but won't. It will cost him this constituency, probably Goodale's, probably another one or two in Manitoba or rural BC.

Lance is right. Orchard will bang this drum for as long as he can. Perhaps you can just chalk this up to the Liberal's Case of Casey.

The Liberal's could change the channel very easily.

They could stand their ground on any number of issues that they have taken this government to task for and force a GENERAL election.

...or they could continue to sit on their hands...


Anonymous said...

I have no idea what Tomm is talking about but as to the Bill Casey/David Orchard bit there are some obvious differences. But I'm not totally behind Casey's position either.

Bill Casey has long ties to his party and many years in caucus. He was appropriately removed from caucus for voting against the budget, but wanted to come back in, but due to Harper's desire for Machiavellian leadership qualities he dumped him, not caring that he will most likely lose this one riding now. This was afer the riding had already nominated him, not before.

Tomm said...


I'm saying Dion botched this.

Its simple really. The rest are just related thoughts.


lance said...

I'm not sure what Dion could have done. According to him, Goodale and Dorion, the word was spread months ago.

He couldn't have announced prior to Beatty agreeing and you can't really blame her for waiting until the Xmas period before announcing.

Dion is taking the hard-line here and he has to. Caving would be an error of drastic proportions, there can be no leadership by committee.

The die is cast, the only thing left to measure is the ramifications.


Gayle said...

Steve - I cannot speak for ottlib, but I will say that I agree with him.

As for Casey, I also agree that Harper did what he had to do. The man voted against his party in a confidence vote, and there are consequences for that.

The fact I may have enjoyed Harper's discomfort when the riding association went against his wishes does not mean I think Harper was wrong. Neither is Dion.

There is no contradiction here.

Steve V said...


Fair enough. I thought Harper was wrong, and that extends to this decision, even though there are unique circumstances.