Rob Anders (M.P. - Calgary West), for those of you drawing a blank, is the gentleman who blocked the honourary Canadian citizenship that the House of Commons was going to bestow on Nelson Mandela, on the grounds that he believed Nelson Mandela (yes, THAT Nelson Mandela) was a terrorist. He is also the most reactionary member of the Conservative Caucus and, before that, the most reactionary member of the Reform Party Caucus (now THAT is saying something). Let's just say that the vast majority of Canadians would find Mr. Anders a bit out-of-step with the mainstream. He wins his riding, though, and keeps the social conservatives within the party happy, so Harper keeps him around. He's considered such a loose cannon by party brass that, when it began looking in the last election that the Tories might actually win, they [ALLEGEDLY] shipped him out of town, as far from media microphones as possible, and kept him there until the night the ballots were counted...
But this post isn't about Rob Anders - it's about the Calgary West nomination process for the Tories.
A Court of Queen's Bench judge decided that the nomination process in Calgary West was unfair, because of perceptions of conflicts of interest and a lack of due diligence. He has ordered a new nomination process take place. Anders had argued that, as in internal party matter, this was outside the judge's jurisdiction. Perhaps, perhaps not - I'm not a lawyer, I wouldn't know.
What I DO know, and have mentioned before, is this:
"...the National Candidate Selection Committee has authority to disallow...
candidacy on any grounds it sees fit..."
(CPC - Updated Candidate Nomination Rules & Procedures, Jan. 4, 2007 -
Now, of course this being politics, normally we'd be loathe to suggest anything approaching absolutism. That being said, though, either the above statement is TRUE, or it is FALSE. Clearly, the judge in the case of Calgary West believes it to be false, in which case the Party needs to re-write the rules.
Nation, between you, me, and the flies on the walls of whatever cubicles in which you're all reading this: I'd go so far as to suggest that IF a legitimate and respectable candidate came forward to oppose Rob Anders for the party nomination, they may just win it. Many people in Calgary West buy Tory memberships just to try and wrest their riding's mantle away from the guy who described Calgary West as "A Christian Constituency".
Let's call a spade a spade: Calgary West is going to vote Tory, and they're going to elect a Tory. So this nomination process is, in fact, the battle for an M.P. position. One that's pretty much guaranteed - remember: Anders did virtually no campaigning last election, the Party [allegedly] hid him in a B.C. motel for weeks, and yet he still handily won the riding, without having knocked on a single door. So, the Tory candidate WILL be the M.P. And if those inside the riding who DO share Anders' somewhat skewed social views are so enraged by losing "their guy" as a candidate that they decide NOT to vote Tory, they'll either have to run someone as an independent (they'll lose), vote for another party (they'll lose), or start a new party for social conservatives (they'll lose).
This decision has given the CPC, and its members in Calgary West (Not my riding, sadly) a chance to show the country that they are not, in fact, rednecks in sheep's clothing, and that they actually CAN move closer to that soft political centre that most Canadians number themselves among without selling out on their values of fiscal conservatism, small government, and democratic reform. THAT will have an impact on more than just the fortunes in Calgary West - it will send a message to the country that the Conservative Party practices what it preaches, and will no longer nominate M.P.'s to be ashamed of... after all, isn't openness, transparency, and showing the nation what you truly stand for all part of the blessed Accountability that we heard so much about in January of 2006?
I don't believe that the Tories of Calgary West all drink from Rob Anders' Kool-Aid pitcher. If Anders' people were so confident that he DID have the majority of support, they wouldn't have bent the rules to make sure he won the nomination by acclamation. Here's hoping the National party brass step in and make sure this is done RIGHT, so the members of the Party can choose, for better or worse, who they want their M.P. to be.
Who knows? Anders might still win... after all, it only took the Church a few centuries to realize that they owed Galileo an apology...