Ontario Progressive Conservatives appear to be turning up their noses at an election victory served to them on a silver platter.
Some political polls have shown as many as 70 per cent of Ontarians disapprove of the job Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne is doing. Yet the Tories seem well on their way to self-destructing as a result of candidate nomination disputes still brewing in several ridings.
Halton Catholic District School Board trustee Jane Michael, who lost the PC nomination to Jane McKenna in the riding of Burlington last November, says she cannot support McKenna in next year’s provincial election, set for June 7.
McKenna, who represented the riding in the Ontario Legislature from 2011 to 2014, defeated Michael by 41 votes for the nomination, a decision that was appealed by the Michael camp.
Colin Pye, membership chair of the Burlington provincial PC Riding Association, filed the appeal with the Provincial Nomination Committee of the Ontario PC Party but it was denied following a hearing that took place on the phone by conference call. Pye had asked that the meeting results be nullified and a second vote carried out.
Included in the appeal were allegations that some people were permitted to vote who were not on the riding membership voting list and that they were not required to show identification, that McKenna had signed up 25 members who have the same address and that there was no proper security for blank ballots sitting on a table.
Michael and McKenna were approved as candidates for the nomination by party central only the day before the nomination meeting.
“I thought it was going to be work real hard, do your best and may the best man win,” Michael said. “Needless to say, I thought it was a democracy and it wasn’t. It was a gong show from the start.”
Michael said she started knocking on doors in July of 2016 but did not have a list of party supporters to assist her. Nevertheless, she did sign up 500 new members.
From her point of view McKenna said she saw no irregularities at the meeting. She also refuted Pye’s claim that 25 of the people she signed up live at the same address.
Rick Dykstra, president of the Ontario PC Party, is not overly concerned about Michael’s non-support for McKenna.
“There are so many of these hotly contested ridings,” he said, “people have the right afterwards to support or not support the candidate. We have 40 more of these to do. In my view, we’ll have the best slate of candidates of any of the three parties.”
Dykstra actually chaired the Burlington nomination meeting.
Meanwhile Vikram Singh and Jeff Peller, who both lost to Ben Levitt in a race for the Progressive Conservative nomination in the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, filed appeals, with Singh claiming there was a wrongful insertion of false ballots. Levitt worked for David Sweet, the MP for the federal riding of Flamborough-Glanbrook.
Disputes also have arisen in the ridings of Newmarket-Aurora, Ottawa West-Nepean, Richmond Hill, Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and Carleton.
McKenna was elected MPP for Burlington in 2011, but lost to Liberal Eleanor McMahon in 2014
Burlington has been relatively free of political battles, although two incumbent Members of Parliament have been challenged for their own nomination.
In 1971 when Burlington was part of the federal riding of Halton-Wentworth, Liberal MP John Morison lost his own nomination to Eric McGuiness, who then was defeated by Progressive Conservative Bill Kempling in the election of 1972.
Burlington Councillor George Whyte challenged Tory MP Bill Kempling for the Progressive Conservation nomination in the federal riding of Burlington in 1983 but was not successful. Kempling was re-elected in 1984.