Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 8, 2014
One has to feel for member of Parliament Larry Maguire.
The longtime politician and community builder has been handed nothing less than a handful of headaches from a Conservative party bent on snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in 2015.
The most recent misstep comes in the form of a decree tumbling down from the mound to the masses by party central stating current Conservative members of Parliament who secured their nomination after the last federal election will not be challenged for their nomination in 2015, Maguire included.
Parties themselves, in this nature at least, can operate a bit outside of the realm of the Elections Act. But the decision could possibly face some challenge from local riding associations — especially riding associations that will see a revamping of boundaries under the restructuring of the House of Commons, a restructuring that will redraw the lines come 2015, Brandon-Souris included.
This news is in stark contrast to the two other main parties, which have both spent the balance of the last six months dropping hints and then proving that their nominations will be fair, open and democratic.
That contrast as well stands the very possible chance to open a ripple in the Conservative party locally, allowing some the chance to rehash old wounds from the past nomination in Brandon-Souris — a nomination process that was so riddled with difficulty the party almost lost what was once believed to a sure thing for the Conservatives locally.
As for Maguire, he was quick to state he would wait to see what the local nomination committee had to say about it, but you have to wonder if this is another hit to the ever-growing line of party missteps that could hurt the longtime politician in the end.
Many in this community, myself included, have a tremendous amount of respect for Maguire as a person, and his first few months as our member of Parliament have been nothing short of polished from a community lens.
Maguire has weathered the Veterans’ Affairs closure fairly well and was also able to snatch the Career and Employment Youth Services program from the fireplace, at the 11th hour before it would suffer the same fate as the veterans service in Westman.
He is visible in the community and saying the right things, in spite of his party’s somewhat self-destructive behaviour recently.
Brandon University political science Prof. Kelly Saunders may have said it best as she mused in this past week’s paper that the idea in its nature is “fundamentally undemocratic.”
Any time a political party can have two successive nominations be called into question due to the feeling they are undemocratic does very little for cohesion or excitement within the rank and file of the party.
It does even less when the move is in contrast to other parties that are committing to staging the most democratic nominations possible, and most a year or more before the election.
One of those instances was the case of current Liberal MP Kevin Lamoreux, who was nominated again last week in Winnipeg North. Although running unopposed, the potential existed for the longtime MP and former MLA to be challenged. Early moves like this allow candidates from either of the two other main parties to gain momentum in the region while the governing party sputters to shed its old ways and processes that look suspect to the average voter.
It appears that this move will only place more fuel on the fire burning right in front of the Conservatives in Ottawa. For Maguire, a respected member of the Westman community, to have to face undue scrutiny as a result of a questionable move higher up is fundamentally unfair to someone who is, at his root, doing his best to better this community.
Maguire was the right candidate for the party, and as was the case this past byelection, proved enough to be the right candidate for the riding by winning the seat.
It is unfortunate that something the party membership treasures has once again been taken away from them in nominating a candidate. The nomination is one of the greatest benefits of being a party member and is a long-held privilege of partisan membership nationwide.
Maguire and any other who may challenge him should be given the latitude to prove that they are the right person for the membership, democratically nominated, as opposed to merely being seen as the right candidate at the time for party brass operating in Ottawa.
More and more it seems that if the Conservatives truly gave their membership a chance to have their say, they wouldn’t want to hear what comes back through that same process.
In a democratic society, party politics or not, this decision makes little sense for a party trying desperately to bring people and excitement into the tent to shape their future, as opposed to casting out new voices and new opportunity, should they disagree in the process.
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