12 January 2011

Connie Leadership 2011: Dunderball Run!

How many surprising things could we find out on Wednesday in the ongoing  soap opera that is the back-room deal to a leadership contest of any kind within the province’s Conservative Party?

Well, certainly no one would have expected that the Conservatives would send out business minister Ross Wiseman to confirm that the whole thing was, in fact, a lash up.

He didn’t mean to do that, supposedly, but he did.

Wiseman spoke to reporters after wannabe Conservative candidate Brad Cabana accused Wiseman’s executive assistant of threatening him and otherwise trying to persuade Cabana to stay out of the race.

We’ll get to that scrum in a minute.

Let us first of all consider the contents of an e-mail that the executive assistant – Chick Cholock – sent to Cabana, apparently some time in December.  You have to say apparently because in the version posted by CBC the thing is devoid of any identifying marks of any kind. The e-mail could have been typed up on Wednesday or heavily edited to remove any incriminating or dubious statements.

For the sake of keeping this moving, let’s just imagine for a moment that the parties to this farce are not complete imbeciles incapable of organizing even a garden variety Christmas pantomime.  And let’s note that Cholock is either not very well informed, incidentally, or is pulling his nose in the opening sentence, but that is another story.

Let’s just look at this bit, first:


In an ideal world there would be no leadership challenge.  They always end badly.  This paragraph displays Cholock’s ignorance of political history in the province.  It also shows a fundamental anti-democratic strain that is, sad to say, not very surprising.

On the other hand, it confirms, as regular readers know, that there are indeed cleavages inside the Conservative Party that are so deep that the back-room types are petrified at the prospect.

Let us now turn to Wiseman’s scrum.  There’s a version on the CBC website and another on the Telegram’s website.

In his first long answer to the first question, Ross states that “it was well known and well understood” that the entire caucus backed Dunderdale at that point as were most of the district associations. Wiseman says that given that it was highly unlikely any challenger could succeed.

That hardly sounds like an open process.

When asked about an open process, Wiseman tries to insist that the process is open but then quickly returns to the point that everyone – caucus and district executives – were all backing Dunderdale and therefore Cabana had a tough row to hoe if he ran.  That was the “backdrop”, according to Wiseman, for Cholock’s comments.

Wiseman insists that Cholock was acting as a private individual when he visited Cabana’s house in the middle of the work week to discuss Cabana’s candidacy.  Wiseman does rattle off Cholock’s extensive experience in the party and his history of party involvement but then claims that any conversation was done on Cholock’s own time and was unofficial. Wiseman did not explain why he was speaking for his executive assistant on a personal matter, as opposed to having Cholock do the talking for himself.

Wiseman also acknowledges that Cabana contacted the Tory caucus seeking support before he submitted his nomination papers.

But here’s the thing:  Wiseman essentially confirms that Cholock went to cabana’s house to explain that Cabana was wasting his time, given that everyone had already declared for Dunderdale.  David Cochrane from CBC asks the question using those words – “wasting his time” – and Wiseman concurs.

But the fix was not in.


- srbp -