Justin Trudeau has done a great disservice to the political career of long time Liberal Christine Innes and candidate for Olivia Chow’s Toronto Trinity-Spadina federal seat.
Trudeau has also seriously undermined the candidacy of his favoured female Toronto candidate, Chrystia Freeland.
Before I elaborate, a brief summary of the facts is in order.
According to National Post columnist Kelly McParland:
“One of the numerous grand promises Mr. Trudeau made on becoming Liberal leader was the pledge to do things differently. No more sneaky backroom shenanigans — only Tories do that. The new improved Trudeau Liberals would be open, honest and accountable. And democratic. Not like Stephen Harper. Mr. Trudeau would be more of a co-ordinator, listening to the party rather than handing down dictates and micromanaging activities.”
Specifically, Trudeau publicly promised that all Liberal nomination meetings in all the federal ridings would be open and democratic.
Recently NDP MP Olivia Chow resigned her federal Trinity-Spadina seat to run for Toronto mayor.
As a result, federal Liberal candidate Christine Innes immediately began organizing her campaign to become the Liberal nominee in the upcoming by-election to fill the Trinity-Spadina seat. Within days, Innes had obtained the endorsement of the local Carpenters’ Union.
To the outside objective political observer, moi, Innes appears to be the ideal candidate, regardless of gender.
Innes is smart, tough, hard-working, articulate, politically experienced and a lawyer by training. She is also very well respected by the powerful provincial Ontario Liberal machine. She is currently a political aide to the Ontario Liberal Tourism Minister Michael Chan.
To her credit, she has run twice against Olivia Chow in the federal elections of 2008 and 2011. Innes lost both times, but in each case, she was very competitive against incumbent Chow, a formidable candidate.
It takes an enormous amount of personal sacrifice, time and money to mount not one but two hard-fought political campaigns.
Frankly, I think Innes should be commended for her political work on behalf of the Liberal party, her tenacity and her willingness to throw her hat in the political ring one more time.
I also think that it is a big plus that she inherited her husband Tony Ianno’s campaign organization and then developed her own strong organization. (Ianno held the riding for the Liberals for 13 years until his loss to Chow in 2006)
The impressive Innes seems Clintonesque in her political drive and ambition.
However, instead of supporting and encouraging Innes’ efforts to win a third nomination, surprisingly and clearly unfairly, Trudeau kiboshed her candidacy and destroyed Innes’ dream of recapturing Trinity-Spadina.
Then Trudeau and his spokesman, David MacNaughton, Ontario campaign co-chair, proceeded to botch the explanation for Trudeau’s unilateral, draconian and undemocratic interference in the riding nomination process.
According to the Post’s McParland, “MacNaughton told Innes she has been banned from running. Ianno, he alleged, had been accused of bad-mouthing Trudeau favourite Chrystia Freeland and trying to ‘bully’ eager young workers into abandoning Freeland for Innes.”
OMG! Ianno committed the heinous crime of criticizing a political opponent. And “bullying” young workers. How absurd and ridiculous.
Innes denied the allegations against her husband, Ianno. But even if what Ianno did is true, so what? Politics is rough, tough, hard, messy, competitive and the ultimate zero sum game where victory goes to the toughest, strongest, most effective and hardest working campaign.
Innes suspected that the real reason for Trudeau’s action is that Innes refused to back away from contesting the nomination against Freeland in the general federal election of 2015, where Freeland was planning on running for the Liberals in a restructured riding which included part of the former Trinity-Spadina riding.
I believe that Trudeau’s intervention has backfired badly — against both him personally and his party.
Liberal Trinity-Spadina riding president Julia Metus was publicly livid. She angrily and publicly denounced Trudeau when she claimed: “There was absolutely no due or fair process…. No one picked up the phone to contact me, there was no opportunity to discuss their concerns, and there was zero local involvement.”
Young Liberal and rising political star, Zach Paikin, son of well-known newscaster Steve Paikin, publicly dropped his candidacy for the Hamilton/Ancaster riding and accused Trudeau of going back on his word.
Ouch. Holy hypocrisy, Justin!
Please note some of Zach Paikin’s gutsy and principled comments published in the Huffington Post. I would like to add to Paikin’s courageous words, that Trudeau has also seriously undermined Chrystia Freeland.
By blocking Innes,Trudeau has sent the public message that Freeland, as a relatively new female candidate, on her own, is too weak and inexperienced a woman to compete against the apparently better organized and more experienced Innes.
Poor defenceless Freeland needs the help of the big boys at national office. So Trudeau has resorted to gaming his own Liberal nomination process. In doing so, in my opinion, Trudeau has acted in a paternalistic and sexist manner.
And he has hurt Innes, Freeland, himself, the Liberal Party and the cause of women in politics.