Time is of the essence

The assertion Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has eroded democratic accountability by slowly chipping away at parliamentary rules and traditions is a narrative opposition parties have been pushing for some time, culminating in a contempt of Parliament motion.

The assertion Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has eroded democratic accountability by slowly chipping away at parliamentary rules and traditions is a narrative opposition parties have been pushing for some time, culminating in a contempt of Parliament motion.

The extent to which Canadians in the upcoming election believe that narrative — or even care about it as an issue compared to, for instance, the economy — is questionable. However, the case just got a little easier for the opposition parties to make, locally at least, with some Okanagan Coquihalla Conservatives now charging that the nomination process to replace MP Stockwell Day as the riding association’s candidate was unfair, if not, outright “rigged.”

The charges being espoused by some party members, such as Day’s former fundraising chair Mischa Popoff, stem from the nomination process’s short timeline which set the deadline for a detailed nomination application package to be delivered in Ottawa six days after Day’s (along with two other Conservative MP’s) surprise retirement. Because the process was so short, said Popoff, it excluded many who wanted to run.

There is no question the short timeline did lead to an unfortunate reduction in choices for a candidate position. However, where doubters see conspiracy we see a rushed, poorly-conceived nomination process that needed to be fast-tracked due a controlling PM’s office allegedly waiting too long to allow Day to announce his retirement despite an increasingly volatile minority-government situation.

How else, we wonder, did Ensign, a man ordered by a judge to signed a peace bond requiring him to leave his wife’s presence if requested to do so and to take family-violence-prevention counselling, slip by the Conservatives’ process? Would the Conservatives have really “rigged” the process to make sure Ensign was included on the ballot box? We think not.

Anyone who has followed Albas’ political career for even a minimal amount of time knows the ambitious young councillor has not only been waiting for the opportunity to replace Day for some time but has actually been preparing himself for it. Albas could have been given less warning and time to get his application to Ottawa and it would have happened. Did the short-time line reward his eagerness? Undoubtable, but in these days of short-lived minority governments perhaps that is one of the benefits of being prepared.