Canadian Press, Saturday, January 12, 2008
Sask Liberals in northern riding challenge Dion picking candidate
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - A Liberal Party nomination
dispute in Saskatchewan enmeshed in politics, race and
gender became more complicated - and confrontational -
More than 140 disaffected party members voted to
create a new riding executive they hope will in turn
hold a nomination runoff to decide who will carry the
party banner for the northern riding of
Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River in a March 17
But the party already has a candidate - former
provincial NDP cabinet minister Joan Beatty - who was
appointed by party leader Stephane Dion last week.
Nevertheless, Jim Durocher, an organizer of the event
and past president of the Metis Association of
Saskatchewan, said democracy must prevail.
"Why should Stephane Dion - who doesn't know anything
about our constituency - impose that on us? That's just
not right. We're not going to take it," he said.
The move has left provincial party brass shaking
their heads, given, they say, that the riding already
has an executive and that any final nomination decision
rests with senior party officials in Ottawa.
"It's confusing," said Frank Proto, president of the
Saskatchewan Liberal Association.
"There was an executive put in place last April."
Proto said they will work with the interim committee
to address future concerns, but that as far as Beatty
goes, it's a done deal.
"We have a candidate and that's not going to be
reversed," he said, adding he toured the sprawling
northern riding last week and found unanimous support
The members at Saturday's meeting - including area
mayors and native leaders - also decided to formally
petition and write to Dion and urge he retract the
Beatty decision. They will also ask Beatty to step down
and run in a nomination race.
The byelection is one of four being held that day.
The riding had been held by Liberal MP Gary Merasty.
He won by just 67 votes over his Tory competitor in
2006, but resigned last year.
David Orchard - a former Conservative party
leadership candidate and a key supporter in Dion's 2006
successful bid for the Liberal crown - was at the
meeting, said Durocher.
Orchard had been campaigning hard to win the
nomination in the riding, which has a large aboriginal
The decision by Dion last week to appoint Beatty was
to help fulfil a pledge to bring more women into the
"Joan Beatty brings to the Liberal Party of Canada a
strong mix of local knowledge, aboriginal expertise,
political experience and a tradition of service to the
people of Saskatchewan," Dion said at the time in a news
Beatty is a former journalist and one-time minister
of culture, youth and recreation.
She and the rest of the provincial NDP found
themselves on the outside of power looking in late last
year when they were defeated in a general election by
the Saskatchewan Party.
Durocher said their concern is not about Beatty but
about the process: "This is not a Joan Beatty issue."
Saturday, January 12, 2008
David Orchard, letter to The StarPhoenix
In your article, “His side of the story,” S-P,
January 11, 2008, Liberal party spokesperson Elizabeth
Whiting is quoted as saying that the Liberals already
have a riding association executive in the
Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River riding. Therefore it
is “not possible” to set up a new one.
In fact, there is no functioning riding
association in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River. No
executive, no president. A formally constituted riding
association has not existed for some time.
In this circumstance, the members of the riding
are entirely within their rights to set up an
association to represent the membership. This is not a
parallel association, nor a challenge to any other body.
No other body exists in the riding and the members are
to be commended for taking steps to rectify this serious