Seriously, is there a scintilla of actual evidence – circumstantial or otherwise – that now infamously former Liberal candidate Robert Morrissey bolted because of the Green Shift?
I mean, I’m not saying he didn’t – heck, anything is possible. But based on the coverage so far, it seems as though that particular claim originated with Conservative Party spokesbird (and erstwhile part-time House of Commons salary-drawer) Ryan Sparrow, who isn’t exactly what I’d call objective – and, I’m betting, is downright shocked by how easy it has been to push this story to the local PEI press despite a noticeable lack of independent corroboration.
True, Peter MacKay has now waded into the fray – and by doing so, has sent the retiring incumbent, Joe McGuire into fits of highly entertaining outrage – but I’m not sure if that means much, frankly. This is, after all, the regional minister who claimed to be completely unaware that his own province was playing host to the Liberals’ Atlantic Liberal caucus earlier this week. If that’s the case, it’s hard to see how he can be considered a credible source of internal Liberal party gossip.
The Liberals, however, aren’t exactly doing much to counter Sparrow’s surprisingly successful shot in the dark. Last night, the party put out a statement from no less a personage than party president Don Doug (I don’t know how I got that wrong) Ferguson, in which he announced the resignation of a second candidate – Garry Oledzki, who had been preparing to run for the party in Palliser, Saskatchewan, for “personal and professional” reasons.
To which those members of the parliamentary press gallery still checking their respective berries at ten to six on a sleepy Thursday night responded, thusly: “Oledzki? Palliser? Did I miss something? Clearly, the resignation of this Oledzni fellow, of whom most of us have never heard until this very second, is important enough for Don Ferguson to issue a press release. Therefore, it must be juicy.” At which point the frenzied Googling began, as journalists attempted to figure out exactly why the Liberals would be so concerned about getting out ahead of a story that didn’t appear to have existed until they pointed it out to everyone.
The predictable result: At least one headline about Liberal candidates dropping like flies, despite the fact that, once again, there is no reason to assume that the two events were connected in any way, or that either candidate was driven out by the horrible prospect of campaigning on the Green Shift.
In fact, as far as electoral prospects, the two ridings – Egmont and Palliser – couldn’t be less similar. Egmont, which McGuire won with 53% of the vote during the last election, is the closest thing the Liberals have to a stronghold in Atlantic Canada. Oledzki’s chances in Palliser, on the other hand, could most kindly have been described as “mathematically speaking, not quite non-existent” – over the last decade, the riding has swung back and forth between the Conservatives and the NDP; the Liberals ran a distant third in 2006.
Given all that – and despite the best efforts of both Ryan Sparrow and the Liberal Party to convince me that these departures are a bleak harbinger of the party’s electoral fortunes – I think I’d rather wait to hear from the now former candidates before officially declaring this to be an Outremontesque crisis for Dion. Hopefully in time, they’ll forgive me.