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  8. The Realpolitik Of Open Nomination
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The Realpolitik Of Open Nomination

The realpolitik definition of an open nomination is not that it is a fair fight, but that if you beat the party establishment, your victory will be accepted.

As the summer of 2014 wore on, my membership sales improved and we passed 200 membership forms awaiting submission. While credit card memberships could be purchased online or by a printable form, cash memberships - far easier to sell - could only be sold on pre-printed and serial-numbered forms. You could check out 25, return them, and get 25 more to replace them, and a fixed number of people on your campaign could each do that. We had only 100 forms from that, but I also had 77 forms left over from having been the Membership Secretary of the association prior to filing my candidacy, having already submitted 23 of the 100 I had been allocated.

At the end of the summer of 2014, I was preparing to accompany my then-boss Newfoundland MP Scott Simms on a work trip to Vancouver. I checked into my flight online, and was preparing to go to the airport when I suddenly got word that my nomination meeting had been called for Thursday, September 18th at the bowling alley in Mont-Tremblant. While my strongest base of support was in that area, the party did not know that because all of those memberships were sitting on my desk at home, and from their point of view it was a part of the riding where I had no strength.

I was lucky; the party did not employ a blind cut-off with a retroactive membership deadline in my nomination as they had in many others.

With Scott's blessing, I cancelled my flight and rushed back to the riding, selling another 55 memberships that weekend. On Monday, my mother and my brother, who happened to be visiting from England, drove into Montreal with all my forms, into the party office for submission before the cut-off. The receiving agent refused the forms at first, insisting that each cash form had to have the exact cash stapled to it; ours was using paperclips and had been grouped, with $20 and $50 bills being used for families, for example. My mother and brother went to a nearby bank and traded the cash they had for the correct denominations for the forms, and were amused to be given mostly $10 bills with staple holes already in them.

We got a receipt for the deposited forms and over the next few days waited for them to show up in Liberalist. My opponents' memberships all showed up, but none of mine did. After a couple of weeks - time we did not have - I was contacted by the party about the forms I had used: they claimed that I was not permitted to use the forms I had received as the Membership chair to sell memberships for my nomination, and they were reviewing my candidacy itself. I was summoned before the Green Light Committee to explain myself, and ended up hiring a lawyer to fight the case, as there was no basis on which to declare the forms invalid.

In the interim, I also contacted my friend who worked at the National Membership Office in Toronto and asked if they had received my membership forms as they had not been entered. He told me that he had received the forms, but had also instructions from the Montreal office not to enter them until after the date of my nomination. Not only the contested forms, of which there were 77 - 23 had already been accepted and entered in a batch months earlier, but all 250 or so that had been submitted on deadline. I asked if anything was wrong with the forms and he said no, these are valid forms and there had been numerous of the same type from other nomination candidates across the country already accepted and entered, and he had them put into the system right away.

Pablo Rodriguez, who had been defeated in the 2011 Orange Crush in Quebec, was the Quebec campaign chair. All the other candidates for nomination in Laurentides--Labelle had requested and had meetings with him, but I had not seen the need - I knew the rules, both written and unwritten, and knew that kissing his ring was not required to be a candidate. The Montreal office was also largely oblivious to my existence until the flap over membership forms.

When I arrived on nomination night, Mylène Gaudreau, the party's representative and the person in charge of the nomination meeting's logistics, did not recognize me and asked my father if he was the candidate. Her research obviously not done, it was clear that she had not taken my candidacy seriously. For the party team, Julie Tourangeau was their candidate, and the night would be the final, necessary step.

Pablo Rordriguez was present for the meeting, and as the president of the campaign in Quebec, he was roaming around watching to see how everything was going. As the results were nearly finished being counted, he went into the counting room, came out white as a sheet, and announced he had to go somewhere else, immediately departing the venue, even though it was late and we were an hour and a half from Montreal, with no other events in the province still to take place that evening.

A few minutes later, the candidates were invited into the room and Marc Laperrière, the party lawyer and meeting chair, tersely announced the results: David Graham is the candidate.

We were encouraged to go upstairs as if we did not know the results. Unable to contain my grin, I went upstairs to anticipatory applause and handshakes, taking a few minutes longer than I should have to get into the room. Marc was trying to announce the result and, thanks to French gendering, saying "le candidat éul" gave away the result before I was named.

I had defeated the party organization at their own game, and in so doing became grudgingly accepted as the party's official candidate for Laurentides--Labelle, receiving little information, contact, or support from the Montreal office.

Originally posted on SubStack

Posted at 04:17 on June 21, 2023

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