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politics

NDP Riding Association Questions Eligibility of Voters in Scarborough-Guildwood Nomination

Concerns raised about the process by which the NDP's candidate was selected.

scarborough guildwood map

The leadership of the provincial Scarborough-Guildwood New Democratic Party riding association is concerned that more than a third of those who voted in its recent nomination meeting—held to select a candidate for the byelection being held on August 1—were not properly registered to vote. Yesterday, they sent a letter to the provincial party secretary, registering those concerns formally.


The Scarborough-Guildwood NDP held its nomination meeting this past Sunday, July 7. According to the Ontario NDP’s constitution [PDF], only a “member in good standing” who has applied for membership at least 30 days before a nomination, and who lives in the riding, is eligible to vote for a candidate at a nomination meeting.

Torontoist has obtained a letter sent Thursday from the Scarborough-Guildwood riding association to the party’s provincial secretary. It briefly outlines an investigation by the riding association into the eligibility of twelve people who attended Sunday’s meeting and were allowed to vote. “Our subsequent investigation revealed that eleven of these twelve walk-in voters could not be verified as members in good standing in Scarborough-Guildwood,” the letter states.

Another source within the NDP, who asked not to be named because of ongoing participation within the party, told us that riding association officials challenged the eligibility of seven of the remaining eleven persons during the nomination meeting, including one group of three who share the same surname, but they were overruled by the NDP’s party secretary. All eleven people in question were given ballots and voted in the nomination.

According to the source, candidates receive a list of party members in advance of the nomination in order to be able to canvass them for support. “If candidates do not have full access to member lists, they are at a disadvantage and the process is not democratic,” the source said. The source added that “fully updated lists and databases are crucial for a transparent nomination vote.”

The riding association’s concerns could call into question the results of Sunday’s nomination meeting, in particular because they pertain to one third of all ballots cast.

Former Toronto city councillor Adam Giambrone, who represented Ward 18 (Davenport) for two terms, was declared the winner of that nomination, and he has begun campaigning in Scarborough-Guildwood. Giambrone defeated his only opponent, Amarjeet Kaur Chhabra, a union organizer who made an unsuccessful 2006 bid for city council in Ward 43 (Scarborough-East). The letter to the ONDP notes that Chhabra shares the riding association’s concerns about the nomination process.

Chhabra did not respond to a request for comment on the matter. A staffer with Giambrone’s campaign also declined to comment, and referred us to the ONDP executive.

The Scarborough-Guildwood riding association has asked the ONDP to confirm the eligibility of the twelve apparently unregistered voters. “Please forward to the Riding Association the name, current address, phone number; sign-up date and membership number of these twelve voters,” the letter requested, with a deadline of 1 p.m. today.

Darlene Lawson, the provincial secretary who ruled that the attendees in question were eligible to vote, declined to comment publicly on the nomination process. In an email to Torontoist this morning she wrote only that: “Our Party, as per our practice, deals with internal matters internally.”

Lawson did respond in much greater detail to the riding association, in an email sent out late this morning. In that message Lawson writes that “only one issue was brought to my attention at registration, to confirm the identity of an individual, which I did. I was not made aware of any additional concerns.” She also said NDP staff are continuously updating member databases, even after riding candidates receive their final update of member lists.

Lawson refused in the letter to verify the eligibility of the twelve attendees about whom the riding association raised concerns, and explained that the party only releases full membership lists under very specific circumstances. It is not clear what further action, if any, the riding association might take at this point.

There is precedent within the Ontario NDP for holding a new nomination if party officials determine that the initial process did not follow the rules. In 2011, the NDP removed Barry Weisleder as a candidate in Thornhill after determining he had failed to fully complete his campaign nomination forms; the party convened a second nomination meeting to replace Weisleder.

The full text of the letter sent from the riding association is below, followed by the full text of the party secretary’s response:

scarborough guildwood ndp letter

Members of the Scarborough Guildwood Executive,

I am responding to your memo regarding the recent Scarborough Guildwood nomination meeting, held on July 7, 2013 at which I was in attendance.

I have confirmed with the Chair of the meeting, Joe Cressy, that:

- The nomination meeting followed the agenda.

- The vote took place and the Chair announced the results. The result of the vote was upheld and a motion was moved to destroy the ballots and make the result unanimous. The motion was adopted by the members and the nomination meeting was adjourned.

- Only one issue was brought to my attention at registration, to confirm the identity of an individual, which I did. I was not made aware of any additional concerns. Registration is the proper time for any concerns about voter eligibility to be raised and addressed, prior to voting taking place.

Both candidates received the same membership list once their candidacy was approved.

It is standard practice to update the membership database prior to a nomination meeting, including the input of renewals, federal members, members who have changed their address, new memberships received at least 30 days prior by staff, online, by phone, by mail, etc.

In the short time frame prior to the nomination meeting, as well as preparing for three nomination meetings in three days, corrections, updates and additions of eligible members into the database necessarily continued subsequent to the candidates receiving the riding membership list.

On the matter of your request, full membership lists are released to the executive of a riding association for the purposes of conducting the functions of the riding association as outlined in section 5.02 of the Party Constitution, namely to organize within the constituency for electoral, political and education purposes and to nominate candidates and, in addition, for the purpose of recruiting members, carrying administrative work and carrying the responsibilities that the Party assigns under Ontario’s election laws.

Once by-elections are over, and staff resources permit, membership lists will continue to be made available to ridings for the above purposes.

With best regards,

Darlene Lawson
Provincial Secretary
Ontario NDP

Comments

  • Guest

    For those who are having trouble following this story, let me sum up for you. The Liberal and PC parties allow their leadership to parachute in candidates – just overrule the local riding association and appoint a presumed “star” candidate to run for office. The ONDP and Green parties do not allow this – the local association has a vote, and that’s the candidate.

    The ONDP decided to parachute in star candidate Giambrone at the last minute and therefore had to fix the nomination election. Slimy Joe Cressy was appointed to chair the meeting; the provincial secretary was brought in to overrule any objections; and a bunch of people who were not qualified voters were brought in to stuff the ballot box for Giambrone over local activist Chhabra. Now the provincial secretary is covering up the use of bogus voters. The fix is in.

    This is a slimy, anti-democratic action by the ONDP leadership.

    • EDMUNDOCONNOR

      I’d simply note that not even the riding association is saying that these members are in any way fraudulent. It is merely saying that the members could not be verified. Given the NDP’s often less-than-perfect record-keeping (yours truly had go down in person to their offices to get his monthly donation transformed into a membership, something which I thought I had already done), I’d suspect poorly-done paperwork over conspiracy any time.

  • OgtheDim

    Wait a second:

    We are talking about 11 votes here.

    And that amount was 1/3 of all votes cast!?!?!!

    • EDMUNDOCONNOR

      It’s a small riding association. When a riding association is not very active, when you go through the rolls, it’s not surprising to find a good chunk of your ‘members’ live outside the riding or have passed on. If you count the smaller subsection of those interested enough to vote, then the numbers get very tiny.

  • Julius Arscott

    Adam
    Giambrone’s NDP candidacy in Scarborough Guildwood is yet another
    example of the undemocratic top down power play which is becoming more
    familiar in the NDP in recent years. The
    person Adam defeated a labour union activist who lives in the riding
    and a woman of colour (who Adam had previously endorsed). Ironically,
    while NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is content to allow the people of
    Scarborough-Guildwood to decide the merits of Adam, she chose to
    interfere with the candidate selection process of Thornhill NDP in early
    September 2011. She rescinded the democratic nomination of Barry
    Weisleder, a union organizer who also happens to be chairperson of the
    NDP Socialist Caucus. Horwath would not allow the people of Thornhill
    to decide the merits of the original NDP nominee there.

    And the lesson arising from this: Sex scandalized NDP candidate? No problem. Leftist NDP candidate? No way!

    • OgtheDim

      Hmm….personally I’d say this is more a win for John McKay (assuming he doesn’t retire) then anybody else.

    • Lloyd_Davis

      I got a distinct feeling of “do as you’re told” when it came to the federal leadership election, too.

  • Julius Arscott

    Adam
    Giambrone’s NDP candidacy in Scarborough Guildwood is yet another
    example of the undemocratic top down power play which is becoming more
    familiar in the NDP in recent years. The
    person Adam defeated a labour union activist who lives in the riding
    and a woman of colour (who Adam had previously endorsed). Ironically,
    while NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is content to allow the people of
    Scarborough-Guildwood to decide the merits of Adam, she chose to
    interfere with the candidate selection process of Thornhill NDP in early
    September 2011. She rescinded the democratic nomination of Barry
    Weisleder, a union organizer who also happens to be chairperson of the
    NDP Socialist Caucus. Horwath would not allow the people of Thornhill
    to decide the merits of the original NDP nominee there.

    And the lesson arising from this: Sex scandalized NDP candidate? No problem. Leftist NDP candidate? No way!

    • dsmithhfx

      Where have I seen this comment before?

  • huanguan

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt..

  • EDMUNDOCONNOR

    So you’re saying it is impossible – simply impossible – for the ONDP not to be behind its paperwork, or for its paperwork not to be accurate. For example: technically, I am still a member in Etobicoke Centre, but I now live in Markham. I have been a member since 2008, so there’s no question of insufficient time having elapsed. Would I be allowed to change my riding association at the door if I went to my nearest riding association’s meeting, even though my membership of the party and my residence in Markham is beyond dispute? Even I’m not sure as to the answer to that one. Add in a small-ish full-time staff who have to do a dozen things before breakfast (and that was before five by-elections were called), and it’s easy to see how things fall through the cracks.

    • OgtheDim

      Yur stretching it there edmund.

      Rules are rules and if they couldn’t be verified, they shouldn’t have been on a voters list and therefore should not have been counted in votes. That’s how politics works in this country, at all levels. Change that to account for bureaucratic error and you go down a road I don’t think you really want to go down, I hope.

      Please don’t act as an apologist for the party you support.

      They obviously goofed.

      Giambrone wasn’t going to win anyways, but this just makes the ONDP look bad.

      Admit it, and move on.

      • EDMUNDOCONNOR

        The case for the critics rests on a few facts and a lot of supposition and speculation (which are, as yet, unsupported by confirmed facts). I’m simply applying a critical eye to their case. No-one and no argument is beyond reasonable criticism. Not the critics. Not the party. No-one.

        Was this an ideal situation? No. Was this a situation forced on the opposition by the Liberals? Yes. Was the situation designed by the Liberals to put the opposition on the back foot? Arguably, yes. The timeline was compressed, giving everyone much less time to prepare than otherwise.

        I am prepared to make allowances for occasional human error.

        • andrew97

          I agree, mostly because Giambrone has such little chance of getting elected … why bother with shenanigans at the nomination meeting?

          • OgtheDim

            Cause it would have been REALLY embarrassing if he went for the nomination and lost.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            But losing the by-election, with this suspicion tainting him (further) and the Ontario NDP leadership, wouldn’t be?

  • OgtheDim

    Which is my point. There was a bit of a movement federally in 2011 in Scarborough towards the NDP. Enough to make McKay, who is a pretty right wing Liberal, really close to the Tories.

    Now, if the NDP apparatus gets disaffected and support in Scarborough Guildwood drops, then there is even less of a chance of McKay losing.

    These things never are isolated to only provincial politics – especially when it comes to the NDP.

  • Don River

    Wasn’t Giambrone against amalgamation??

    • OgtheDim

      As was Mel Lastman.

      Didn’t stop Mel from becoming mayor of the whole city.

  • Playisgametoo

    Odd. If ethics are important here, why hasn’t Cole explained to readers Torontoist’s parent company St Joseph’s communications funds the Ontario Liberal party? That’s right, the same group donating to the Liberal paid for this post. Kinda important to mention ethically-speaking, no? Or do ethics not apply to Toronto jounalists?

    • dsmithhfx

      Desperate?

    • OgtheDim

      Funds? As in its all their fault? Consider precision.

      One question – why didn’t you put this on the discussion about Wal-mart, seeing as a number of St. Joseph’s clients are direct competitors?

      You wouldn’t, per chance, have an axe to grind on behalf of the ONDP, would you?

    • scottld

      So Liberals secretly attended the nomination process, screwed it up, cheated an existing NDP candidate so that Torontoist could write about it. Its a vast Liberal conspiracy.

  • Lloyd_Davis

    Or the federal Liberals.