28 January 2011

How to be a Tory

The bunker team that ruled on Brad Cabana’s appeal of his rejected leadership bid made a fascinating – and most likely inadvertent – description of what standards they used to determine who might be considered a member of the provincial Conservative Party.

You can hear this in a debrief CBC Provincial Affairs reporter David Cochrane did with the St. John’s Morning Show’s Jeff Gilhooley on Friday morning.

Cochrane reported that the Conservative appeals team found that only three of the names on Cabana’s nomination forms were considered to be party members.  They came to the conclusion after scouring membership lists from district associations, youth groups and other affiliated organizations as described in the party constitution.

Sounds good and official so far, right?

And then Cochrane started listing the three.

The first one he described was a person who may have – note the conditional language – put up a few signs during an election campaign.

Hold the phone.

That’s it?

May possibly have been vaguely recalled to have helped out on a sign crew. 


So how many signs do you theoretically have to stick in the ground? 

Is it one? 

A dozen?

Do the signs have to be in the ground or could you have been seen holding one lovingly at some point?

Do you actually have to have done it or is it a function of someone else’s efforts?  After all, maybe this was back in the 1990s when every Tory householder included a sign.  Junior sticks it in the window to piss Dad the Dipper off and presto the whole family is down in some registry of known Tories kept in someone’s basement?

Maybe the whole membership process isn’t even that specific.

Maybe you only have to look like someone who might have erected a sign: Yes, by. That fellow looks like a guy who helped me out years ago.  He’s a member then.

After all, as Cochrane related the tale, the Tories weren’t even sure this guy or gal actually wielded the hammer or got the splinters from holding the two by two. They thought he may have.

And while they weren’t even 100% certain of that they were prepared to say that the person was a member in order to meet the clear and stringent requirements set down in the Tory party constitution.

We know this is such a document since coronation chairman Shawn Skinner – with no real or perceived conflict of interest whatsoever, surely – duly blessed the outcome.

Now that sign guy doesn’t sound like someone whose name wound up on an actual membership list. After all, the party  doesn’t really have membership lists as such since the party doesn’t have members, as such. There are no cards or dues or any formal way of identifying as a member of the party.

In fact, the party considers every person in the district over the age of 18 years to be a member for the purposes of voting in nomination contests.  And under the party constitution only members can vote.

So basically before Cochrane even got that far in this tale, the story totally demolished the bit before it. If the Tories had actual membership lists to scour, they wouldn’t have had to be beggar someone’s failing memory of a sign crew that could have gone off with a van and the dozen bear and a few dozen signs at any time back to 1972, at least.

And if they really had some sort of membership lists with rules that are clear, widely known and fairly applied, they wouldn’t be crediting Cabana with finding a possible Tory sign jockey.

In case you'd forgotten, the same people who are living this tale of membership stupidity are the same people who control about seven billion a year in public money.

it would all be hysterically funny if that were not true.

- srbp -