Mark Warner, the man who was nominated by the Conservative members of Toronto Centre to be their candidate (and my opponent), has been dumped by Stephen Harper, despite the objection of “leading members” of the local riding association executive. This news follows Harper’s ouster of riding association executives who were supportive of Bill Casey in Nova Scotia. Harper clearly has absolutely no respect for the members of his party, nor the candidates and riding executives that they duly elect. According to the Toronto Star, an email sent by Mark earlier today contained the following:
It has been very difficult to mount a credible local campaign, given the lack of support from the national campaign on the one hand and their seemingly contradictory insistence on micro-managing of our local efforts…I learned that the party’s national council has taken the unprecedented step of disallowing my candidacy…I very much regret this arbitrary and capricious decision of the party’s national council, and will have more to say about that in other fora in the days to come.
In addition to showing a complete disregard for the Conservative party’s democratic processes, this is an insult to Mark himself. He’s been campaigning extremely hard so far even though the writ hasn’t even dropped yet. I’ve seen him at every community festival (plus more obscure community events and fundraisers) and handing out flyers at the College subway (near where we both live). His full-colour flyer was mailed to everyone in my building a few months ago, he’s taken out ads in local newspapers and he’s posted at least one campaign video on YouTube.
What’s interesting to me about this is that while Mark and I have largely gotten along, our biggest disagreement came when I pointed out that his party was no longer “progressive,” but was rather dominated by the Reform/Alliance party. He reacted forcefully, and wanted me to understand that he was solidly in the Progressive Conservative camp. Looks like progressives really don’t belong in Harper’s tent. Thank goodness there’s at least one other party where true progressive conservatives are welcome.
Update: My intuition was correct. Cameron lets us know about a CBC report that says Mark was shown the door because of “his penchant for speaking out about subjects that didn’t receive party authorization, such as education, affordable housing and HIV/AIDS issues.” The article continues with this bombshell: “Warner said references to his attendance at an international AIDS conference in Toronto in 2006 were removed from his bio when he sent it to Ottawa for approval.” Meanwhile, the nominated Conservative candidate in Guelph, Brent Barr, has also been ousted.
And just to drive home the hypocrisy, kudos to the CBC for digging up this quote from Harper during the 2004 campaign: “We want to clean up internal party politics, beginning with grassroots democratic control of the nomination process.” And so concludes another installment of “that was then, this is now.”