“By the time it was known he was running, it was too late to do anything about it.”
Just when I thought that we had heard the last from Ken Epp before his impending retirement, he delivers a final quote for the ages. Epp, of course, is maintaining neutrality in the bitter dispute over the nomination of Edmonton-Sherwood Park Conservative candidate Tim Uppal (head on over to Gauntlet.ca for details, but in short, some disgruntled Conservatives have rallied around independent candidate James Ford). Neutrality, however, doesn’t mean Epp is above sandbagging his successor on the way out.
Epp’s response quoted above clearly betrays his view that Uppal’s candidacy for the nomination was a thing which his faction in the constituency association would have “done something about.” The regret isn’t phrased as being about the lack of a fair race which Uppal may have won, but of a lost opportunity to stop him – it’s implied that he would have lost a fair contest. Epp’s sentiment is echoed by the disgruntled breakaway board members.
So we have Conservatives in Edmonton-Sherwood Park complaining about a democratic deficit – about their choice being overridden by a larger bloc of voters. This sends me into howls of derisive laughter. Conservative supporters are not, oddly enough, high on my list of the disenfranchised in Edmonton-Sherwood Park. They actually get represented by a Member of Parliament, a privilege we do not all share. While they bemoan the ineptitude of their own party’s nomination rules, let’s revisit what they’ve stuck the rest of us with for the past 15 years: an MP that thinks that equal marriage is “endorsing aberrant sexual behaviour,” that pornography creates serial killers, and that loading a bill with anti-choice rhetoric “isn’t about abortion.” In comparison, being dissatisfied with your party’s sure-to-win candidate is what I would call a high class problem.
It doesn’t take much analysis to spot a rather unsubtle racism underlying some of the discontent with Uppal’s candidacy. Uppal is an outsider, they say. Nobody knows him or knew that he was running – other than, presumably, the large number of supporters that won him the nomination, described in the disgraceful Edmonton Sun as a “Sikh power juggernaut“. Those supporters are being dismissed as illegitimate because they just showed up to vote for the leader and then left – but of course any constituency association in a pocket burrough is going to temporarily swell to grotesque proportions when a long sitting incumbent retires. Much of the substance of the complaint here is not that the process is flawed, but that the flawed process resulted in the wrong person, or more specifically, a person of the wrong ethnicity, winning.