Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Histories of Toxic Leadership: the Ontario case

Would you vote for this guy?
The Globe & Mail has been running a series on the suspected mass rigging of Ontario Conservative Party candidate nominations.  It makes you wonder how anyone could stomach being a political party member -- particularly in that party, but really in all of them.

The previous leader of the Ontario conservatives, Patrick Brown, was a sort of Manchurian Candidate (without the foreign manipulation). Someone with an unimpressive track record turned into a party leader essentially by "organization": which seems to have meant mostly massive buying up of party memberships until the eventual leadership vote was a foregone conclusion.

Brown and his party executive claimed to have built a membership base of 200,000 or more, and they spent more than a year creating an election platform through an extensive consultation he called the "People's MandateGuarantee."  Except when he was forced out by a sex scandal, it turned out there were maybe 74,000 members with genuine credentials and actual mailing addresses.

The new leader, Doug Ford, who was narrowly chosen by a process as dubious as Brown's, was authorized to throw the alleged People's GuaranteeMandate into the blue box, and go into an election with masses of top-down appointed candidates and others chosen by the smelly and possibly illegal processes outlined in the Globe stories
A Globe analysis of the membership list found that more than two dozen fake members listed at one apartment building had the same names as people connected to Mr. Dhillon or his associates through social media. In interviews, two people said they had no idea how their names and Toronto-area phone numbers ended up on a list of party members in Ottawa....
Another of the Globe stories drove home the point that all political parties, federal and provincial, operate pretty much this way
Duff Conacher, co-founder of the advocacy group Democracy Watch, said the system for nominating candidates across Canada is vulnerable to manipulation, because it occurs with no independent oversight. The controversy in the PC Party is an example of why Ottawa and the provinces need to “clean up” the system, Mr. Conacher said, by having elections agencies run nomination races. 
He also said the questions around the disputed Tory races call for a police investigation.
“It can’t be left up to the party leader to decide whether there should be an investigation or not because their incentive is always to cover things up,” he said on Sunday.​
But as long as leadership is everything, and party leaders as isolated from their caucuses as Patrick Brown (and Doug Ford) are accepted  -- both within their parties and by commentators and analysts -- to have quasi-dictatorial powers over their parties, there is a huge incentive for these kinds of actions by would be party leaders and the fixers and organizers who cluster around them.  No wonder someone like Jaspal Atwal looks like the typical Canadian political party member.

I've always voted.  But I'm beginning to wonder if it only encourages them,
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