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Blair McCreadie:
To start, and with full disclosure, I know Zach 
Paikin and have worked with him on campaigns. 
However, I think that his announcement this 
week was wrong-headed. As volunteer activists, 
we all make significant investments in our 
respective political parties and in our leaders.
However, in my view, being an activist also 
means that you deal with any grievances 
internally, rather than airing concerns publicly 
through the media. Using the media to air your 
concerns about your leader or your party can 
amount to political self-immolation, and political 
parties tend to have a long memory. Had he 
asked me for advice, I would have strongly 
recommended that he take a longer-term view, 
rather than the one-day media hit.
Marit Stiles: 
From a purely 'insider' party activist perspective, 
yes it's true that going public (and wow, did he 
go public!) isn't by any means the most popular 
route to take. 
But he is tapping into real issues within the 
Liberal party grassroots - namely fear of a return 
to a "leader-first" decisions.
Let's not forget that this is a party that has 
completely imploded over a number of elections. 
And Justin Trudeau himself has acknowledged 
that in-fighting and top-down decision-making 
were partly to blame. 
They lost their base. Blocking Christine Innes' 
nomination in Trinity-Spadina sends a message 
to local Liberal activists that they have no say in 
their local nominations, that no matter how hard 
they work and organize, the Leader gets what 
the Leader wants.
It's completely contrary to Trudeau's message 
box! And let's not forget Innes is being ousted 
for something her HUSBAND may have done. 
So much for supporting female candidates. 
Paiken's actions may be naive and 
opportunistic... but they may also ring true with 
party rank and file.
Richard Mahoney:
That is nonsense, Marit. When did you become 
an expert on what Liberal rank and file think? My 
full disclosure here is this: I know Zach Paikin 
too. I had the pleasure of working on Studio 2 
with his father, Steve Paikin, for seven years. 
We are friends. Indeed, ONW head honcho Sue 
Kelley produced that excellent show.
That said, Blair is right on the money on this 
one. Zach’s colourful opinions on Twitter made 
him an object of some controversy.
I know that Zach Paikin had some stiff 
competition for the nomination in Hamilton. I 
think it is odd he is picking the challenges in 
a nomination situation in another city as the 
reason for his withdrawal from the nomination 
race. He is a young guy, university age, and is 
entitled to his opinions.
But to use the situation in Trinity-Spadina and 
the rules and requirements for candidates set by 
the Party as a reason not to seek elected office 
strikes me as bizarre. I would have hoped his 
reasons for seeking to represent the people of 
Hamilton were loftier than that, to be frank. 
Blair McCreadie:
While I appreciate Marit's clear attempt at 
partisanship, leaders of all political parties take 
an active interest in their team of nominated 
candidates. There's nothing wrong with that; in 
fact, it's in their self-interest. In fact, even Sir 
John A. Macdonald once said, "Give me better 
wood and I'll make you a better cabinet."
Respectfully, Justin Trudeau's bold statement 
about holding open nominations in every riding 
is naive. Parties are in the seat winning business 
and, at times, a candidate comes along who will 
make a great contribution in government but, for 
whatever reason, will not be able to win the local 
nomination. There always needs to be some 
balance in a political party's candidate search 
process.
In short, I like Zach Paikin a lot. I think that he'll 
make an excellent contribution at some point in 
public life. But this was Christine Innes' fight with 
the Leader, and not his. This is a situation where 
discretion would have been the better part of 
valour.
Marit Stiles: 
Richard, not sure where you think I purported to 
be an expert on Liberal rank and file.... Let's not 
make this personal. I don't know Zack. I don't 
know Trudeau. But I do know party activists, 
grassroots organizing, and some of the Trinity 
Spadina activists who were working with Innes... 
and they ain't happy, my friend.
Paikin may have other reasons for NOT running 
in Hamilton. And I expect there are MANY more 
significant reasons. I agree with both of you 
on that. I don't see how he builds a base in 
Hamilton. 
He is using this as an opportunity to gain some 
political profile, get a little media attention, and 
probably stake out some territory in his party 
for another possible run. Frankly, he's probably 
accomplished most of those objectives.
But the point he is making is critical. Sure all 
Party leaders like to pick and choose their star 
candidates. But it's healthy to also allow them an 
opportunity to launch a full-on nomination battle. 
Ostracizing your core activists does not make for 
a healthy campaign, or a winning campaign. And 
it certainly doesn't make for a healthy party.
Richard Mahoney: 
Marit, nothing personal, my friend. Goes without 
saying. I was just responding to your claims 
on how the Liberal grass roots feel about this 
situation. 
I take Blair’s points about the challenges of 
open nominations. Mr Trudeau’s commitment to 
open nominations is laudable and courageous. 
He comes about it genuinely - he faced stiff 
competition for his first nomination in 2008 and 
he won that race because he had the support of 
most party members in Papineau. 
However, open nominations don’t mean there 
are no rules or principles. What it mean is that 
local party members choose the candidate, 
rather than having one imposed upon them by 
the leader. As Blair says, leaders will still have 
key people they want to recruit to be part of the 
team, in order to help them build the ideas and 
the message they want to take to Canadians. 
Newly elected Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland is 
one of those people.
She has been thinking and writing about 
the issue Justin Trudeau thinks is the most 
important economic challenge facing Canada: 
creating more opportunities for our middle 
class to grow, so that their standard of living 
improves, and our economy delivers equality of 
opportunity. 
It is important to the Liberal Party that Chrystia 
Freeland, and others like her, run for the party in 
the next election. Mr Trudeau's campaign team 
is trying to keep things civil and deal with the 
problem that redistribution creates
by combining parts of Trinity-Spadina and 
Freeland's riding, Toronto Centre. Nothing 
wrong with that- that is their job. I would expect 
nothing less of them. 
Blair McCreadie: 
And now, for a bold prediction ... Christine Innes 
seeks the Liberal nomination in 2015 in Toronto 
Centre against - Chrystia Freeland.
Rumour has it that revenge is a dish best served 
cold!
The Salon is ONW's weekly gathering place where three of Canada's brightest and most respected political strategists - Blair McCreadie, Marit Stiles and Richard Mahoney - come together to analyze national issues affecting Ontario.



Blair McCreadie:

To start, and with full disclosure, I know Zach Paikin and have worked with him on campaigns. However, I think that his announcement this week was wrong-headed. As volunteer activists, we all make significant investments in our respective political parties and in our leaders.

However, in my view, being an activist also means that you deal with any grievances internally, rather than airing concerns publicly through the media. Using the media to air your concerns about your leader or your party can amount to political self-immolation, and political parties tend to have a long memory. Had he asked me for advice, I would have strongly recommended that he take a longer-term view, rather than the one-day media hit.

 

Marit Stiles:

From a purely 'insider' party activist perspective, yes it's true that going public (and wow, did he go public!) isn't by any means the most popular route to take.

But he is tapping into real issues within the Liberal party grassroots - namely fear of a return to a "leader-first" decisions.

Let's not forget that this is a party that has completely imploded over a number of elections. And Justin Trudeau himself has acknowledged that in-fighting and top-down decision-making were partly to blame.

They lost their base. Blocking Christine Innes' nomination in Trinity-Spadina sends a message to local Liberal activists that they have no say in their local nominations, that no matter how hard they work and organize, the Leader gets what the Leader wants.

It's completely contrary to Trudeau's message box! And let's not forget Innes is being ousted for something her HUSBAND may have done. So much for supporting female candidates.

Paiken's actions may be naive and opportunistic... but they may also ring true with party rank and file.


Richard Mahoney:

That is nonsense, Marit. When did you become an expert on what Liberal rank and file think? My full disclosure here is this: I know Zach Paikin too. I had the pleasure of working on Studio 2 with his father, Steve Paikin, for seven years. We are friends. Indeed, ONW head honcho Sue Kelley produced that excellent show.

That said, Blair is right on the money on this one. Zach’s colourful opinions on Twitter made him an object of some controversy.

I know that Zach Paikin had some stiff competition for the nomination in Hamilton. I think it is odd he is picking the challenges in a nomination situation in another city as the reason for his withdrawal from the nomination race. He is a young guy, university age, and is entitled to his opinions.

But to use the situation in Trinity-Spadina and the rules and requirements for candidates set by the Party as a reason not to seek elected office strikes me as bizarre. I would have hoped his reasons for seeking to represent the people of Hamilton were loftier than that, to be frank.


Blair McCreadie:

While I appreciate Marit's clear attempt at partisanship, leaders of all political parties take an active interest in their team of nominated candidates. There's nothing wrong with that; in fact, it's in their self-interest. In fact, even Sir John A. Macdonald once said, "Give me better wood and I'll make you a better cabinet."

Respectfully, Justin Trudeau's bold statement about holding open nominations in every riding is naive. Parties are in the seat winning business and, at times, a candidate comes along who will make a great contribution in government but, for whatever reason, will not be able to win the local nomination. There always needs to be some balance in a political party's candidate search process.

In short, I like Zach Paikin a lot. I think that he'll make an excellent contribution at some point in public life. But this was Christine Innes' fight with the Leader, and not his. This is a situation where discretion would have been the better part of valour.


Marit Stiles:

Richard, not sure where you think I purported to be an expert on Liberal rank and file.... Let's not make this personal. I don't know Zack. I don't know Trudeau. But I do know party activists, grassroots organizing, and some of the Trinity Spadina activists who were working with Innes... and they ain't happy, my friend.

Paikin may have other reasons for NOT running in Hamilton. And I expect there are MANY more significant reasons. I agree with both of you on that. I don't see how he builds a base in Hamilton.

He is using this as an opportunity to gain some political profile, get a little media attention, and probably stake out some territory in his party for another possible run. Frankly, he's probably accomplished most of those objectives.

But the point he is making is critical. Sure all Party leaders like to pick and choose their star candidates. But it's healthy to also allow them an opportunity to launch a full-on nomination battle. Ostracizing your core activists does not make for a healthy campaign, or a winning campaign. And it certainly doesn't make for a healthy party.

 

Richard Mahoney:

Marit, nothing personal, my friend. Goes without saying. I was just responding to your claims on how the Liberal grass roots feel about this situation.

I take Blair’s points about the challenges of open nominations. Mr Trudeau’s commitment to open nominations is laudable and courageous. He comes about it genuinely - he faced stiff competition for his first nomination in 2008 and he won that race because he had the support of most party members in Papineau.

However, open nominations don’t mean there are no rules or principles. What it mean is that local party members choose the candidate, rather than having one imposed upon them by the leader. As Blair says, leaders will still have key people they want to recruit to be part of the team, in order to help them build the ideas and the message they want to take to Canadians. Newly elected Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland is one of those people.

She has been thinking and writing about the issue Justin Trudeau thinks is the most important economic challenge facing Canada: creating more opportunities for our middle class to grow, so that their standard of living improves, and our economy delivers equality of opportunity.

It is important to the Liberal Party that Chrystia Freeland, and others like her, run for the party in the next election. Mr Trudeau's campaign team is trying to keep things civil and deal with the problem that redistribution creates

by combining parts of Trinity-Spadina and Freeland's riding, Toronto Centre. Nothing  wrong with that- that is their job. I would expect nothing less of them.


Blair McCreadie:

And now, for a bold prediction ... Christine Innes seeks the Liberal nomination in 2015 in Toronto Centre against - Chrystia Freeland.

Rumour has it that revenge is a dish best served cold!

 

About The Salon

Richard Mahoney is a former Liberal advisor to Rt. Hon. Paul Martin; Marit Stiles is a federal and Ontario NDP strategist; and Blair McCreadie is past president of the Ontario PC Party (2002-2008) and a partner with Dentons Canada LLP.
Posted date : March 19, 2014

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