Monday, November 05, 2007

It's a mess

I'll start this post on a quasi-personal note: On Friday, October 26 my wife woke me with a sympathetic preemptive apology, "Dear, I'm sorry you belong to a party of idiots."

Not being fully awake, I had no idea what she was talking about until CBC radio went into the next news segment. Then I heard this news piece which outlined that, within days of his declaration of intent to run the media discovered that John Woodrow, the Liberal Party candidate in Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans was previously in a bribery controversy which led to the resignation of Beaton Tulk.

And it gets better when you look at the documents which outlined his charges at the time. It's was not as if Tulk had demanded bribes from Mr. Woodrow, then he refused and blew the whistle. No, he freely gave the bribes (so he claimed) and only then did he blew the whistle when Minister Tulk had not kept up his end of the bargain. So, according to his initial claims (later withdrawn) his reason for going public was not because bribery was bad but merely because in the quid pro quo he was involved in, the pro quo was not forthcoming.

It's notable to mention that both offering and receiving bribes are criminal offence. It seems Mr. Woodrow was not necessarily aware of those subtleties in criminal law when he made his claims.

And all the party brass could say was they had no idea about any of this. Never mind that all the party had to do was a simple Google search or check out the CBC website. And never mind that any sensible candidate vetting process would have picked that up had one been in place.

And more to the point, given previous opposition charges of government self-interested actions, the party had to be extra careful in weeding out questionable candidates.

In the days that followed the breaking of this story, I'm sorry to say that party officials declined to make a definitive statement about the matter.

However, in a moment of startling political clarity, the local campaign organization told a Telegram reporter that they did know about it, that it didn't really matter, and would he please not write about it.

Here's a tip to aspiring political operatives: any story about a candidate that you don't want the media to write about will be written about sooner or later. Assume sooner and prepare accordingly.

As expected, the media did cover the story with glee and bated breath; Woodrow and the party was roundly criticised and pilloried. A pathetic defense on Woodrow's part that he was focused on the future instead of the past rang hollow and empty.

Now, the latest news is that over the weekend, Mr. Woodrow has decided to do what he should have done weeks ago: withdraw from the race. And to cap it off, Woodrow handled the withdrawal so ineptly that his name will still be on the ballot for all in the district to see. After offering up a stellar candidate like Gerry Tobin, this is just sad.

It's only too bad that the party didn't do what it should have done which was to ask him to resign. I can only assume that the party declined to look bad but the reality was that it was going to look bad either way. At least by asking for the resignation it would have looked bad in doing the right thing instead of looking bad for having it's head buried in the sand; sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and move on.

And besides, under the circumstances, it would not have been so bad not having a candidate in the district.

It's bad enough that the party appears to be in total disarray in the wake of four unimpressive years in opposition which was followed up by an election campaign which brought the party to a showing which could only be envied by the NDP.

It's not like the party has to go out of it's way to prove that it can't keep even the most elementary aspects of it's house in order.

All this makes the party looks bad. The party has become an object of derision, ridicule and it is being dismissed as a political force. Even long-time supporters have been sharply critical of how this party found itself here and the people responsible for that.

I am fed up of being embarrassed by the actions of the political party to which I belong.

It has to change.