Saunderson: An Affront to Democracy

PC nominee candidate Stella Ambler reported that her competitor, Brian Saunderson was anointed appointed as the party’s candidate for Simcoe-Grey without allowing the members to decide if they want him. Party members weren’t even given a warning that this was coming: the autocrat premier merely waved his hands and made it happen without regard to the desires of the party’s members.

Ambler wrote in a recent email:

This is a very disappointing development, and represents an affront to the democratic right of the members of the Simcoe-Grey PC Association to select their candidate.

What she didn’t say, but seems obvious, is that this “affront to democracy” was the result of the toxic “old-boys’-network” alive and well within the PC party.

Saunderson was able to grab the brass ring without having to work for it, and many people say it’s solely because of his father’s former role in the Mike Harris government. Certainly, it wasn’t because he’s is well-loved in the riding: he isn’t. Nor has he accomplished anything of note in his term as mayor (aside from wasting more than $10 million of taxpayers’ money on his vindictive judicial inquiry, aka the SVJI, and alienating local taxpayers as a result).

Maybe he was appointed as a reward for his efforts to block our hospital’s redevelopment. Or maybe simply because he knows what to kiss and when. Whatever the reason, it was a slap in the face to party members and shows just how little Ford cares about them. An affront to democracy, indeed.

Saunderson is the same man who announced less than halfway through his term as mayor that he didn’t want to live up to his responsibilities to Collingwood, and instead wanted a better-paying job as MPP in Toronto. While he was campaigning to be the riding’s next nominee for MPP, he refused to do the ethically and morally right thing and resign from his office. And he still won’t leave; instead, he continues taking the taxpayers’ paycheque for a job he has clearly abandoned since the start of the year.

But that’s apparently the guy Ford wants in his party: someone who can’t live up to his oath of office, or his responsibilities, won’t do the right thing for the electorate, and quits when the first opportunity arises.

My sources tell me Ambler had much stronger support throughout the riding and had recruited more members than the Saunderson camp. So the appointment wasn’t based on popularity or strength of support. 

But autocracy and lack of public consultation dovetail into Saunderson’s local political history, as readers here know. From the secretive and deceptive privatization of our electricity utility and airport last term, to the unilateral, job-and-revenue-killing bylaw that halted all development and construction in town this term, neither the public nor the stakeholders have ever been consulted or engaged by Saunderson. Likely because he simply doesn’t care about them. L’etat c’est moi, eh?

Perhaps that sort of elitist, let-them-eat-cake attitude is what Doug Ford wants in his party these days. I know that, at least locally, several party members have told me they would vote Liberal before they voted for Saunderson.  I suspect this undemocratic appointment will drive many more local conservative voters into the arms of other parties.

Simcoe-Grey deserves better. And the PC party members certainly deserve their Democratic rights to choose their own candidate.


Party members who joined to support Stella or any other candidate should contact the riding office and the PC party HQ, as well as the premier’s office, to request their money back on the grounds that the party clearly doesn’t care about them or about democracy.

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  1. It was pointed out to me that Saunderson, who cried crocodile tears over the sole-sourcing of the rec facilities almost a decade ago, is perfectly happy being the sole-sourced riding candidate.

    I replied that Saunderson has never been a stranger to hypocrisy when his own ambition was involved.

    I am also curious to see how the power struggle develops in the politburo to anoint his successor, while Saunderson plays patty-cake with his party bosses. The ambitious-yet-risibly-inept wannabes will soon be making their play for power.

  2. I have also been informed by a reliable source that the local riding association was not consulted about this appointment and it caught them entirely unaware.

    I am still trying to learn if this was the result of the Saunderson campaign bypassing them and screwing the local party organization, or an initiative from the premier.

  3. Ted Rowe

    I strongly believe this nomination was a ruse from the get go. Over a year ago there was chatter that Ford was going to appoint Saunderson. Yet the Premier had a committee vet FOUR potential candidates . As the campaign gained momentum I believe it became apparent to the Premier that his man may not win. He jumped into save Saunderson . The other three candidates spent time, money to take part in our democratic process which was anything but open and democratic. But yes devious.

    • It’s fairly obvious to some of us that Ford had to save Saunderson from impending failure. Who knows what havoc Saunderson would have wreaked on Collingwood had he failed? Look at the damage he has done to the town over his failure to get a former council to give the YMCA a $35 million handout in 2012! A personal vendetta spanning years, more than $10 million of taxpayers’ money wasted, and a council of sycophants who continue to lavish money on it, while focusing obsessively on promoting it instead of dealing with pressing, important issues (like the water plant and pipeline contract they ignored until it became a “crisis”).

      But imagine too, the damage he will do to the riding if he gets elected! A petty, unethical, vindictive man in provincial office? No doubt he will continue to press his vendetta from on high. Simcoe-Grey deserves better.

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