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June 11th, 2015

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Four federal Liberal candidates have quietly stepped down over the last few weeks, and are in the process of being replaced.

Susan Watt, former 2015 Liberal candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, ON

[Welcome, cá độ bóng đá trên điện thoại National Newswatch readers!]

The first one we know of is lawyer Susan Watt, who won a contested nomination against former Liberal leadership contestant George Takach last November, in Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON. Her resignation was kept quiet by the party, and her photo and bio remained on their website, until it was reported by the CBC's John Lancaster out of Toronto a month later on May 27. Watt's husband apparently received an exceptionally good job offer in Hong Kong, but it appears the party did not want to announce the resignation before it had identified a star candidate to succeed her, and the story was not picked up on by the national media in Ottawa. The riding is currently represented by first-term Conservative M.P. Bernard Trottier, who will be challenged by lawyer Phil Trotter for the NDP in the fall.

David MacLeod, former 2015 Liberal candidate for Central Nova, NS

The second one we know of is Canadian Forces veteran and former Conservative David MacLeod, who had won a contested nomination last September in Central Nova, NS. His resignation came to light the day Conservative Central Nova MP Peter MacKay announced his retirement from federal politics, presumably when reporters wanted to contact MacLeod for his reaction. In fact, MacLeod had stepped down several days before MacKay, and as CBC Nova Scotia reported, even after the party asked him to reconsider in wake of the seat opening up he still declined to run, and the party then asked the media for privacy on his behalf. Meanwhile former Conservative Field Director Fred DeLorey and Jim Ryan are contesting the Conservative nomination to replace MacKay, and local New Democrats are expecting lots of interest in their nomination now.

However, it may be the third and fourth cases that make for an uncomfortable trend if it continues, as both are aboriginal candidates from urban prairie seats.

Daniol Coles, former 2015 Liberal candidate for Edmonton-Griesbach, AB

The third case I became aware of was the Métis candidate Daniol Coles in cá độ bóng đá trên điện thoại Edmonton-Griesbach, AB (successor of Edmonton East). I noticed when updating Alberta candidate contact information that Coles' Twitter and Facebook accounts had both been taken down, even though his profile remains on the party's Candidates page. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau made a high-profile visit to Edmonton last weekend, where he and his Edmonton-area candidates attended a rally to kick off Edmonton Mill Woods candidate Amarjeet Sohi's campaign, and all marched together in the Pride parade. Coles was not part of either event as a candidate, and moreover his LinkedIn page lists an end-date for his candidacy in the riding of June 2015. It's not known when or why he stepped down, but from Twitter replies to his former account, he appears to have been engaged in some vigourous debates over Bill C-51 just before he stopped tweeting altogether. Coles was acclaimed the Liberal candidate here last August, and soon became included in stories about high-profile aboriginal candidates being recruited by Trudeau, alongside Jody Wilson-Raybould and (since defeated for her nomination in Manicouagan) Native Women's Association president Michèle Audette. The riding is a Conservative open seat, with Peter Goldring stepping down, and former journalist and municipal councillor Kerry Diotte nominated for the Conservatives, being challenged by provincial curriculum manager Janis Irwin for the NDP.

Marcel Isnana, former 2015 Liberal candidate for Regina-Qu'Appelle, SK

The fourth case was rumoured via social media in Regina for several weeks, but can now be confirmed because a potential replacement has stepped forward soliciting memberships. Former Regina police officer and educator Marcel Isnana (son of the late former Standing Buffalo First Nation Chief and himself former Liberal candidate, Melvin Isnana) appears to have signalled his intention to step down to the Liberals, as Della Anaquod is now running for the Liberal nomination in his riding of Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK. Again, it's not known exactly when or why Isnana stepped down. However, his candidate Facebook page has not been updated since the end of April, and family members have been posting items critical of Bill C-51 to social media. Anaquod declared her bid for the apparently re-opened nomination on June 2. Isnana had originally won a contested nomination to represent the Liberals back in September. The riding is held by Commons Speaker and Conservative MP Andrew Scheer, who is being challenged by Agricultural Producers Association manager Nial Kuyek for the NDP.

There is no doubt that the act of measuring something changes its behaviour. In the last two elections, bloggers started counting the number of nominated Liberal candidates who had stepped down for sport, to the point that it became a crippling narrative — much as Liberals now are counting the number of retiring Conservative incumbents before the current election (and admittedly that number is starting to reach fin-de-regime rather than merely renewal proportions). So, it's not surprising that the Liberal party might now be keen to downplay candidate resignations, which could be nothing more than normal turnover, at a time when the public opinion polls have started to move.

But the rule of three says that three or more examples of a phenomenon is a trend, and a trend is a story.

The Conservatives have had 11 nominated candidates step down, but nine of them are incumbent MPs who have already either announced their retirements or vacated their seats. The other two were Marnie MacDougall, who for some unknown reason had to complete a second nomination meeting in order to carry the party banner in Toronto—St. Paul's, ON, and Christopher Lloyd, who had decided to assume the Conservative candidacy in order to run against Justin Trudeau in Papineau, QC as a work of performance art. His candidacy did not last more than a few hours after its raison d'etre was reported by the CBC.

The NDP has lost 5 nominated candidates: Lewis Cardinal for health reasons very early on, then Glenn Thibeault for provincial opportunity reasons last fall, and more recently three Alberta candidates who were since elected to the provincial legislature on May 5, which is the kind of problem as a political party that you like to have.

So, no-one is at crisis levels of losing large swaths of their slate yet, though the count of retiring MPs is climbing and could reach 60 by the day the writ drops, I figure. But some of the secrecy around these resignations does raise questions about the reasons behind them, so it's worth keeping an eye out for any further signs of a pattern.

25 Responses to “Liberals lose four candidates in a month”

  1. andrew macgillivray says:

    Liberal support for Bill-51 had a huge negative impact among the people I know. I know long-time liberal party workers who turned from red to orange overnight. And as I read comments all over the net, people are furious that their country has given itself police-state powers. Trudeau’s ,”Trust me, I’ll fix it.” is asking way too much from a populace that might like him but doesn’t really know him. He has no record to speak of and when he did have chance to take a principled stand, he went instead for what he perceived as the popular one. We know where Mulcair stands because he and all his party voted against C-51.

  2. Gabby in QC says:

    Call me conspiratorial, but … this “The riding is currently represented by first-term Conservative M.P. Bernard Trottier, who will be challenged by lawyer Phil Trotter for the NDP in the fall.” could be a problem for MP Trottier. He should make sure electors notice the difference between the names Trottier and Trotter, and get his name right on the ballot. Maybe he should campaign primarily as “Bernard”.

  3. Maps Onburt says:

    The liberal candidates no longer think a seat is likely so they don’t want to spend the time and money to shoot for it. Typical.

  4. Matt says:

    Gabby, it could be a problem if the candidates party affiliation wasn’t printed beside their name.

    I suspect most voters look for the party name rather than the candidates name whm putting the X in the circle.

  5. Mike Burton says:

    I also think it needs to be noted that three of these four seats are marginal Liberal seats. The only one they held this century was Etobicoke Lakeshore. The Liberals won Central Nova and Edmonton East in 1993 but not since. Regina Qu’Appelle hasn’t gone Liberal since 1953. Again, only Etobicoke Lakeshore was a likely Liberal pick up in anything but a massive win for the party.

  6. Central Nova as an open seat, with the Liberals leading in Atlantic Canada, was not a Liberal target? I heard Trudeau in his press conference yesterday about hhis party trying to form a majority government. That would have to go through at least Central Nova as well as Etobicoke-Lakeshore, would it not?

  7. John Matheson says:

    Brilliant! Much better than anything I see in the regular media!

  8. David says:

    Liberals voting for Canadian-51 tells you they would be no different than the Constitution.

  9. Rastas says:

    Really interesting article about the federal nominations. Given that you mention that one of the most high profile nomination battles involving former federal Liberal leadership candidate Mr Takach, which was widely and often reported in the press, somehow was not reported by the national press gallery that Ms Watt has subsequently dropped out. Reporting division, changes or problems with candidates should not give off the air of partisanship. Reporters should not acquiesce to requests to hold off reporting the same, as you have suggested may have happened in one of the other races as well.

  10. Mike Burton says:

    @punditsguide, maybe. again the last time the Liberals won Central Nova was 1993. They won majority governments in 1997 and 2000 without winning it and a minority in 2004. Also, Central Nova was not an open seat when the McLeod dropped out.

  11. thereginamom says:

    Interesting times. My understanding is that for any party to get a Majority, they need a chunk of the Prairies. I don’t see Justin winning new support here, especially given his handling of C-51 and his support for many of Harper’s pieces of bad legislation. I do envision breakthroughs for the NDP on the Prairies, and did even before Notley bumped it up a notch.

  12. Mike, this is from the CBC Nova Scotia story about his resignation:

    “A senior Nova Scotia federal Liberal strategist told CBC News that upon learning MacKay intended to resign, the Liberal campaign team asked MacLeod if he would reconsider his decision to withdraw. He would not.

    The strategist described the timing as “weird circumstances.”

    “With Peter McKay stepping down, we look forward to a vigorous open nomination to elect a new representative for the residents of Central Nova,” the federal Liberal Party said in a statement.

    “A new candidate for this riding will be selected through the open nomination process, the same process used in all ridings.””

    Before he knew that MacLeod had stepped down, Liberal MP John McCallum told Global News’ Laura Stone that they now had much better prospects in the riding:

    ““It clearly makes his riding more interesting from a Liberal point of view,” Liberal MP John McCallum told reporters Friday morning.

    “Now that he’s gone, I think that the Liberal party will have a much better chance in Peter MacKay’s old riding.””

    And back when he first announced, and then won the nomination contest, Liberal spinners were spinning off the record that he put the seat into play.

  13. Mike Burton says:

    Right, but I am saying that he left before they “had a much better chance.” The Liberals could win a majority without winning 3 out of these 4 seats. And it would take a very, very strong majority for them to win two of them.

  14. Gabby in QC says:

    Matt at 9:25 am, of course you’re right, most people look for the party’s name. But when a contest is close & every vote counts, total clarity is important.

  15. MGK says:

    Of course, it hasn’t really been tested whether Central Nova is a solid Conservative riding or a solid MacKay riding. So far the only times in the past 45 years there hasn’t been a MacKay on the ballot were 1993 (by-election to give a new party leader, enjoying a strong political honeymoon, a Commons seat) and 1993 (the time the Liberals won). If the CPC doesn’t find a strong candidate with a strong local profile, will we learn that their base there isn’t as strong as we think? Maybe, maybe not — I can well imagine Liberal and NDP strategists looking forward to testing that hypothesis.

  16. Folks has enough of the crap the Conservative Trudeau and Co hort Conservative Stephen Harper specially Bill C-51 the fascist police state legislation that takes Canadians rights and freedoms away from Canadians so the only party that will repeal it all together will be the NDP Thomas Mulcair and give back Canada back too the Canadian folks VOTE NDP

  17. David Young says:

    And now James Rajotte, Edmonton-Leduc, has decided not to run in 2015 after being nominated.

    After the Alberta election, will there be more Edmonton Conservative M.P.s who decide it’s time to take their pensions and run?

  18. WDD says:

    what a delicate hand you have sometimes such as the NDP losing “Glenn Thibeault for provincial opportunity reasons last fall.”
    One of the problems with nominating candidates early is that it increases the risk that you will get more drop outs as the pre election race can be arduous and expensive for candidates who find themselves in a never ending race. Fortunately the Liberals have a number of aboriginal candidates of which one might note Robert Falcon Outllettee in Winnipeg Centre. It would be lovely to give Pat Martin a chance to retire full time to Salt Springs island rather then only part time now.

  19. WDD says:

    Robert Falcon Ouellette

  20. Well, let me be less delicate then by pointing out that Pat Martin does not live full-time on Salt Spring according to the Winnipeg Free Press….


    I guess it’s an open question as to how Dr. Ouellette will do against Mr. Martin, but there is an NDP party vote of very long standing in that seat, and we would probably be looking at 1993 sweep levels of Liberal support for the seat to flip, whereas it currently looks like quite a different environment, with the NDP gaining momentum at the Liberals’ expense.

    In the article, Mr. Martin said he intended to pursue legal action against folks falsely accusing him of what you’ve just asserted, by the way, so be forewarned.

  21. Shadow says:

    And WHOA:


    You’re doing valuable work tracking this. The official line of ‘personal reasons’ repeated in that article is highly deceptive. And to think of all the pushback you were getting from various Liberals.

    I’d be interested in whether official Liberal people like Gerald Butts knew there was a story here the whole time they were on twitter brushing aside this posting.

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