Zach Paikin had planned to seek the Liberal nomination in a Hamilton, Ont.-are riding ahead of the 2015 general election. No longer.
Last week, Justin Trudeau broke a key promise to hold open nominations in every riding by blocking the candidacy of Christine Innes in downtown Toronto.
I cannot, in good conscience, campaign to be a part of a team of candidates if others seeking to join that team are prevented from doing so if their ideas or ambitions run contrary to the party leader’s interest. Therefore, after spending the weekend consulting with friends and family, I am taking what I believe to be a principled decision by withdrawing my candidacy for the Liberal nomination in Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas as a sign of protest.
In the months following our defeat in 2011, many of us believed that we were, in effect, building and creating a new party. I campaigned to be the Liberal Party’s National Policy Chair two years ago on a platform designed to help build the most open political party in Canadian history. I believe that I have a responsibility to speak on behalf of those grassroots Liberals who supported that vision.
I am a strong believer in our country’s founding democratic principles, including: Parliament as a place for dialogue, a government that is accountable to Parliament, and party leaders who remain accountable to their respective caucuses (not vice-versa). I am particularly troubled by the fact that our leader has discarded some of those principles ultimately in order to protect a star candidate.
Stephen Harper is “Exhibit A” of what happens when a leader compromises on his democratic principles in order to win power. I feel it important to speak up as forcefully as I can so that the party I care about doesn’t go down the same road.
With a pledge to hold open nominations comes the natural consequence that some of those nomination battles will be fierce. But holding open nominations ultimately helps a political party with fundraising and voter outreach and engagement. Blocking nomination bids is what creates the party-wide toxicity we seek to avoid.
I still believe that the Liberal Party of Canada remains the most forceful defender in this country of social progress, fiscal responsibility and national unity. I will focus my efforts going forward on supporting the candidacies of friends and colleagues who I think will make outstanding public servants.