NPA announces candidates for council without a nomination meeting
Call me old-fashioned, but I'm a fan of allowing members of political parties to choose their candidates.
It still takes place at the provincial level.
Witness the battle between Coun. Geoff Meggs and former Sierra Club of B.C. executive director George Heyman for the NDP nomination in Vancouver-Fairview.
It renewed the NDP constituency association and set the stage for Heyman upsetting the incumbent, former cabinet minister Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, in the general election.
There was a similar fight in Vancouver-Quilchena between B.C. Liberals Suzanne Anton and Andrew Wilkinson. Wilkinson won, but Anton learned some things that probably helped her win when she was nominated in Vancouver-Fraserview.
Contested nominations strengthen parties because each candidate recruits new members to revive creaky political institutions.
Competing for nominations helps raise money, attract volunteers, and boost candidates' profiles going into an election.
By going through a nomination fight, candidates are forced to listen to people. They learn from their errors. And that makes them better politicians during the subsequent general election.
Most importantly, contested nominations send a message that the party is democratic.
Both Vision Vancouver and the NPA have failed this test.
Vision reserved spots on the ballot for its seven incumbent councillors. It appeared like there would be a race for the eighth place between park commissioner Niki Sharma and Vancouver library board chair Catherine Evans.
But Evans backed out, ensuring there was no nomination vote for any of Vision Vancouver's council candidates.
To its credit, Vision held a lively nomination fight for four spots on its park-board slate and one spot on its board of education slate. So there is some party renewal, though perhaps not enough to guarantee that it will hold its majority on council.
The NPA has gone down a similar path by having the board select its mayoral candidate after closed-door interviews.
Today, the NPA will announce four new council candidates: Gregory Baker, Ken Low, Rob McDowell, and Suzanne Scott. If you want to learn more about them, you can read the NPA news release.
They'll join a council slate with four others who didn't have to win the members' approval at a 2014 nomination meeting: George Affleck, Elizabeth Ball, Melissa De Genova, and Ian Robertson.
I remember when the NPA had rollicking nomination fights. It's no coincidence that the party often went on to win landslide victories in the election.
Nowadays, the NPA's approach is even more insulting to party members and the public than that of Vision Vancouver.
At least Vision allows members to vote on the new candidates. Those who've been supported once in the past at a Vision nomination meeting stay on the ballot for life.
Maybe the NPA feels that it doesn't need to hold nomination meetings because it has enough money to run this campaign already.
Maybe the oil barons in Calgary have already told the NPA board not to worry—there will be more than enough money to buy billboard space and ads in friendly newspapers to boost the name recognition of their candidates.
Maybe NPA president Peter Armstrong has assurances from the city's richest residents—such as Fraser Institute chairman Peter Brown, Fraser Institute director Hassan Khosrowshahi, and NPA vice president Rob Macdonald—not to worry. Just get enough names on the ballot and our money will do the rest.
NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe has claimed that he intends on creating the most open government in Canada.
When it comes to political pronouncements, the public knows that actions speak louder than words.
If you don't have an open party with open nominations, it's a bit rich to expect that the culture will change once this group takes power.