Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Winnipeg South Centre - The Problems of Joyce Bateman
The Conservatives have coveted Winnipeg South Centre for a long time. It is therefore surprising that they manage to screw up in the process of finding a candidate for the area time and time again.
It seems that in the lead up to this present election that the Tories had set up a nomination process, had a fair election and chosen a candidate to run in Raymond Hall. By all appearances, the candidate had set up offices and advertising and was ready to go.
Not so fast though. Many local Conservatives sniped from the sidelines. Obviously not happy with the choice that resulted from an election, some members grumbled and complained and in the end undermined their candidate to the point that he resigned with the election writ only days away.
Many local Tories were rubbing their hands with glee thinking it was too late for a regular nomination and election process for the riding. Several names were tossed out as possible direct appointees of Harper for the candidacy. When an election did in fact happen, Winnipeg South Centre Conservatives jostled unseemly to be appointed.
Now, I'll be the first to say that parties can choose any process they want to select their candidates. However, I think it is important to remind political parties that local members of the party might feel anger in regards to interference from the central office in their ability to select their own person. We have seen that across many political parties over the years.
In the end, the Conservatives have chosen Winnipeg No. 1 School Trustee Joyce Bateman as their appointed candidate to face against Liberal MP Anita Neville.
Until very recently, Bateman was a Liberal party member and strongly associated with the federal and provincial party. She says she was disaffected by Liberal financial spending ideas. It is certainly her right to quit a party, join another and run under that banner. However, the reasons for decision and when she made that decision to part from the Liberals remains a little unclear. Also unclear is when she joined the federal Conservative party. Was it more than 21 days ago? If it wasn't, she wouldn't have even been eligible to vote in a nomination fight let alone run according to what I know of the Tory rules.
Indeed, it is all very puzzling why Bateman was chosen. Are local Tory members and supporters happy about it? Will local Liberal members and supporters be happy with about what happened?
Is this all about strategy? The way the Tories think they can win by selecting someone long associated with the Liberal party?
I don't believe that Bateman will be able to run without answering some key questions about why she is a federal Tory candidate. I can't be the only one confused by her candidacy. However, it is possible that the Tories will keep her well away from the media or unscripted moments just as they did for their candidate in Winnipeg North's byelecton. Whether this works is anyone's idea although it certainly didn't work a few months ago in the city.
I suppose as voters it will be for Winnipeg South Centre to decide whether the federal Tories have done right by the riding by choosing Joyce Bateman.