Saturday, September 02, 2006

Riddell Me This

Back in the 2004 election, Alan Riddell's campaign in Ottawa South began with high hopes when John Manley retired and David McGuinty was blindsided by brother Dalton's announcement of the $900 health care premium, and the NDP put forward Monia Mazigh (better known as Mrs. Maher Arar) in a bizarre bit of grandstanding.

Then the Ottawa Sun ran a libellous story claiming he'd been caught driving on a suspended licence (which, to the Sun's later embarrassment, it had to retract).

He was all ready to go for 2006 when someone decided to tell the press that he dressed up as Sgt. Schultz for a Halloween party when he was 17. Out went Riddell, in came Barry Turner, out went Turner, and when Riddell tried to get in again, Adscam whistleblower Allan Cutler knocked him out.

Now Riddell is out, way out, and nobody will tell him why:

The Conservative party has revoked the membership of a former candidate after he sued the organization for allegedly reneging on a deal worth more than $50,000.

Party president Don Plett confirmed Friday that the Conservative national council voted to kick Alan Riddell out of the party.

Plett said he could not provide details because the decision was in arbitration, but another party official complained last May that Riddell was an "embarrassment" to the party.

The decision comes as the party is under fire by some longtime members for disqualifying potential electoral candidates with little or no explanation.

Riddell is appealing to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene and has brought his case before a party arbitration panel.


Riddell and the party entered into a financial agreement that would pay him up to $50,000 to compensate for expenditures to be the official candidate before Cutler arrived on the scene. In addition, Riddell would be repaid legal expenses.

When Riddell had trouble getting the money back from the party, he went public with the dispute. The party has since claimed they owe him nothing because he breached a confidentiality agreement.

I can see not letting a man stand for office while he's suing the party, not just because of the conflict of interest, but because of the endless embarrassment that would ensue in the press and on the campaign.

But kicking him out without explanation just looks petty, before the suit has been settled or tried.

Perhaps it would have been better not to make the deal in the first place; these sorts of deals always look bad whenever they get released, for both the candidate and the party.

Would someone on National Council please explain why Alan Riddell and other good party members are having their nominations rejected and reputations sullied? If these people aren't fit to run, the membership should know why, before putting themselves behind them and getting burned.

Source: Ottawa Citizen

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