This week, Stella Ambler, a former candidate for the nomination for the PC party in Simcoe Grey, sent an email that expressed her disappointment over the party’s authoritarian actions:
On Monday, Patrick Harris (4th Vice-President, PC Party of Ontario & Chair of the Provincial Nomination Committee for Simcoe-Grey) sent an official reply to my appeal of the decision to cancel the democratic nomination process here in Simcoe-Grey.
In short, Mr. Harris informed me that my appeal was unworthy of the party’s consideration and would be neither considered nor voted upon by the Provincial Nomination Committee.
Ambler was challenging Collingwood’s mayor, Brian Saunderson, for the nomination. I was told her campaign had amassed more supporters than Saunderson, and she was cruising to easily win the nomination. But then Premier Doug Ford stepped in and saved the much-disliked Saunderson from inevitable failure (and having to work for nomination). Ford bypassed the democratic process, cancelled the right of local members to elect their own candidate, and
anointed appointed Saunderson. Our mayor crowed his delight to local media. The Old Boy Network was still in force.
Many longtime, local PC members have told me since then they will vote Liberal rather than vote for Saunderson. Few are likely to forget his role in blocking our hospital’s redevelopment. Developers, builders, construction workers, suppliers, and local tradespeople won’t forget his job-and-revenue-killing bylaw that halted new construction without consulting with them. Nor will voters in municipalities along the pipeline that depend on Collingwood’s water.
The anger and frustration over Ford’s move is palpable in this town.
I have also been told by many PC members who joined to support Ambler they have demanded a refund of their money from the riding association and to be removed from the party’s mailing lists.
According to Simcoe.Com, even riding association officials were unprepared for the premier’s action, which came without even the pretense of consulting the association:
John Greswell — who chaired the riding association’s candidate selection committee — resigned over the decision. Greswell told Simcoe.com the association was caught off guard by the announcement.
Ambler appealled but, as she notes, was brusquely shut down by one of Ford’s apparatchiks. A democratic, publicly-minded party would have taken her appeal seriously and at least held a hearing to determine its worth. But that, apparently, is not the Ontario PC party. Accusations of misogyny and authoritarianism have been made over Saunderson’s appointment.
Saunderson continues to take the paycheque from the Town of Collingwood, despite his utter disinterest in the job after Ford flouted the democratic process. Saunderson continues to discuss and vote for issues in council meetings that represent conflicts of interest as if provincial laws and the town’s code of conduct don’t apply to him. Ethics don’t seem to matter as much to Saunderson as his personal ambition.
Collingwood and Simcoe-Grey deserve better.
“Nothing but ambition, nothing but the wish to succeed — that’s all there is in his soul. Lofty considerations, the love of learning, religion, are all just means to success.”
Anna, in Leo Tolstoy’s novel, Anna Karenina (Penguin Classics, 2000, p. 207)