Nomination contests have become the bane of Canadian democracy.
Look at the Ontario election campaign. There have been some half-dozen controversies about how Progressive Conservative candidates were selected to run.
In Ottawa, oblivious Toronto-area residents appeared on a membership list for a nomination contested by someone close to then-leader Patrick Brown. In Hamilton, police are investigating a race after allegations of forgery and fraud.
It’s banana-republic stuff. It is also a big problem for the PC Party. Some of the most dubious nominations were conducted under Mr. Brown and then overturned, but the issue has not gone away for current leader Doug Ford.
On his watch, a PC candidate resigned after it emerged that the personal data of 60,000 customers had been stolen from the company that runs the 407, a Toronto-area toll highway, where the candidate worked.
And last week, the provincial Liberals released an audio recording that appears to show Mr. Ford telling people in Etobicoke Centre riding that they could join the PC Party without paying the $10 fee, a violation of party rules.
In light of these revelations, some political insiders smirk and say, “Everybody does it.” Yes, practices like paying for “insta-members,” dangling government jobs to get rid of unwanted contenders and creating dubious membership lists exist to some degree across the political spectrum in Ontario.
There have been similar scandals across the country, too, at various levels of government and involving many different parties. Simply put, there has never been a consistent application of the principle that nomination races should be democratic, transparent and spared from undue interference.
With the Wild West antics of the Ontario PCs, and all the well documented problems elsewhere, perhaps it’s time nomination contests were regulated by Canada’s existing federal and provincial election-oversight bodies.
Political parties would no doubt fight tooth and nail against the imposition of outside control. But isn’t it time someone defended the basic principles of democracy so cavalierly ignored by party operatives across the country?