Keeping an eye on stop-gap candidates

By Royce Koop on Sep 24, 2008

The latest Tory candidate to flame out over inflammatory blog postings is Ryan Warawa in Vancouver East. No word yet on whether the party will force him to "voluntarily resign" but the events of the last week-and-a-half suggest that Warawa is on the way out.

I have over the past few days been lamenting the willingness of the parties in this campaign to dump candidates at the first hint of controversy. "What of the right of local associations to nominate their own candidates?" I cried out. But there is clearly a profile of troublesome candidates developing that is related to Anthony Sayers' classic stop-gap candidate type, the no-hope candidates who run in uncompetitive ridings. Chris Reid was in Toronto-Centre and Warawa is in Vancouver-East. Needless to say, these are not ridings in which the Tories have much hope of winning. The same can be said of the NDP candidate in my riding (Vancouver-Quadra) who resigned after his appearance on Marc Emery's TV show was re-aired during this campaign.

The problem is that quality potential candidates know that the party has no hope of winning in these ridings so they don't bother running for the nomination, leaving it open to less qualified candidates who don't mind getting their clocks cleaned in the general election. It is these less qualified candidates that appear to be causing the parties the most trouble in this campaign.

Perhaps the answer for the national parties is to pay closer attention to those uncompetitive ridings where strong constituency association executives aren't around to do so. The trick would be to balance (a) respecting the rights of constituency associations to select their own candidates with (b) the need to keep an eye on potentially embarrassing candidates in ridings where natural filters on bad candidates simply aren't present. Or parties could give up the lame charade of running candidates in every single riding of the country.

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