By John-Henry Westen
BURNABY, BC, March 19, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A revolt is brewing in the Conservative riding of Burnaby-New Westminster where the Party candidate in the last election – a strong social conservative – has been denied the opportunity to seek the nomination again despite massive local support. Last week directors from the local constituency association held a forum discussing their concern at the Conservative Party’s decision to disqualify Marc Dalton, the Conservative Candidate of Record for 2006.
Prominent social conservative John Pacheco was similarly denied the opportunity to contest the Conservative Party nomination in 2005 which resulted in a firestorm of criticism for the Party.
The Liberal Party has also engaged in such tactics but felt the sting of electoral loss as a result. Liberal Leader Stephane Dion quashed the nomination of a local Liberal Party favorite David Orchard. Prior to taking action, Dion was warned that forcing another candidate would cost the Party a solid Liberal seat – which it did.
No reason was given for the Conservative Party’s current decision on Dalton despite repeated requests to the National Council by board members and Dalton himself. Mr. Dalton filed his application papers over one year ago and has hundreds of supporters. He was well-positioned to win the nomination to be held March 29th. He received notification of his disqualification last week just as the cut-off for signing up new members approached.
“This is unfair and unjust!” said Senna Ip, President of the Riding Association. “I support the right of all three of our candidates to run and would fight for each one of them to stay in the race. Mr. Dalton worked very hard in the last election and has been very busy strengthening our Party and building our membership. For the Party to disqualify him at the last moment with no reason is shameful and heavy-handed”.
Thirteen directors and members of the Executive are asking the Conservative Party to allow Mr. Dalton the right to re-enter the nomination race. Members of the group met with National Councilors this week. The Councilors said that it was the local Nomination Committee’s decision, yet the local committee said it was the National Committee’s decision. “They’re just playing games with us”, strongly contests Ip. “The local committee is supposed to reflect the wishes of the Board and the membership. They are not doing that!”
Mr. Dalton was invited to attend the forum. He said that he feels he has an obligation to speak up on behalf of the 400 people who support him, including most of the Conservative riding association long-term membership, young people and people who supported other parties. Dalton, a public school teacher, said “what type of message are we sending to these young people who are participating in the democratic process for the first time? This type of action breeds cynicism and mistrust. It erodes and demoralizes our base. How will this help our Party build public trust and move us into majority territory?”
He added, “On the one hand, our Conservative Party disregards members’ desire to choose a candidate, and on the other hand, they become part of an aggressive fund-raising database. This is just not fair, especially towards our new members!” Over twelve thousand people voted for him as the Conservative candidate in the last election. Dalton remarked that the disqualification may be permissible according to Party regulations, but these unfair practices are not acceptable to the public and run contrary to the principles of accountability and justice that the Conservative Party advocates.
Senna Ip and the other board members hope that Conservative voters and members everywhere will voice their opinion on this matter to the Conservative Party and in public. She contends that the Party must be seen as responsive to the people, especially its grassroots members.
To express concerns contact
Conservative Party Leader
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Conservative Party President