By Ken Johnston
During the winter months, many political buffs, and even those not so inclined, were somewhat enthralled with the SNC Lavalin conundrum and the backdoor politics it encompassed.
For many of us in rural Nova Scotia we likely felt immune to these questionable antics in Ottawa, so far removed. But it only took one day in August to change that perception, and allow us in Central Nova to realize that high-handedness in the capitol, can, and does trickle down.
The Conservative Party of Canada in its wisdom and as a result of consultations, as members were informed, chose a candidate to replace Roger MacKay. Several things remain a mystery – who exactly was involved in these consultations and why did Mr. MacKay drop out? Of course, the upper echelon in the party had two options and they hang their hat on either another nomination process or an appointment.
Actually, they should hang their heads for the mess they created, the travesty that ensued and the injustice done to three decent men.
Let’s talk a little about these forgotten individuals who were forgotten by the party, tossed to the wolves, completely ignored and shown absolutely no respect. Certainly, or at least hopefully, not forgotten by us for making huge sacrifices and then putting their names and reputations on the line.
Luke Young, whom I taught, an intelligent, compassionate and community minded person, has had ties to the Conservatives for some 30 to 40 years. He expressed his anger and that he was openly hurt, as well as disillusioned by the fiasco; and then articulated it clearly in a Facebook message.
Wes Surrett, someone whom I have become acquainted over the last five years, is another quality person, with integrity and strong beliefs (no pipe, for example). Wes, similar to Luke, was also fired up about his treatment of no prior notice, something he has emphatically stated in the media.
Harvey Henderson is another one of those good people who did not deserve to be treated as a cast off. I knew Harvey through the teaching profession and taught alongside his brother, John, when I first began my career. Like his brother, Harvey, a man of principle, must have felt disenfranchised.
Certainly these fine individuals felt the brunt of the hammer and the sharpness of the first nail in the coffin, however, they are resourceful, can rebound and move forward. Do they stay with the party that jilted them is their decision to make.
It’s the others who promised their support, who took out a membership, made a commitment, attended the nomination meeting, and listened to the speeches and voted (in vain) that require our attention. I would suggest that many of these folks, both young and old, may have become involved for the first time, mainly because of the candidates. I seriously wonder when those consultations took place in the big city, did party officials even consider for a moment the damage their decisions might have on future voters. Forever, since voting has taken place, those in charge have been trying to figure out a way to get more people involved in the process.
What are these young kids (14 years and up) to think, what will their parents tell them following this fiasco and how will that affect them going forward when politicians are looking for votes? How could they not be cynical and rather jaded in their approach to any political landscape? Because of this lack of vigilance, we have the second nail in the coffin.
As a result, if the Conservatives had any heart, they would return all membership money with interest to those who supported Luke, Wes and Harvey. That would be the right thing to do but that would require consultations, and really, can that process be trusted based on recent developments.
The last nail in the coffin must be assigned to Mr. George Canyon, (a regular Joe, or Fred, himself), who as reported in the media, was only too willing to step aside and have a new nomination process. However, the local executive unanimously supported him and declined his offer. Now there’s a revelation I did not see coming.
So, Mr. Canyon, you missed the mark because when you were asked to consider the nomination, you should have inquired of that “infamous” group in Ottawa, whether they, in fact, offered it initially to one of the three outstanding citizens who actually shed the blood, sweat and tears during the real process. And that sir, did not occur to my knowledge, and for that reason alone, you are not the true candidate of the people of Central Nova.
You were anointed by the party who unethically and without any genuine foresight, misjudged most constituents' feelings here in Central Nova by surreptitiously crafting this diabolical plan to help drive the third and final nail in the coffin.
Ken Johnston is a resident of Pictou and is a former town councillor.