OTTAWA—A prominent labour leader and an elementary school teacher are separately accusing the New Democrats of being disorganized and unprepared for the coming federal election, as each abandons their bid to run for the party in frustration over the candidate nomination process.
The NDP is dismissing both complaints and said in a statement Friday that the process is working and they will have a full slate of candidates for the election in October.
Sid Ryan, the former head of the Ontario Labour Federation, said the NDP is dragging out the process to approve candidates who applied to run for the party in Oshawa, a city with a heavy union presence that was rocked by the announcement of the closure of the local General Motors plant last year.
Ryan said he applied as a nomination candidate in August — “on time and according to their rules,” he said — but still hadn’t been approved by Thursday, just days before the Sept. 6 nomination meeting set by the party.
This prevented him from accessing the local members’ list, a key tool to rally support from New Democrats in the riding. In a social media post, he said this was a disadvantage which was “an affront to democracy.”
“I’m a known entity. I’m a known quantity. I’ve run in elections before, so I have to think there’s someone behind the scenes with an axe to grind,” Ryan told the Star on Friday. He ran for the NDP in Oshawa in the 2004 and 2006 federal elections.
“I’ve had enough of their shenanigans,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the riding of Simcoe North, Janet-Lynne Durnford announced Thursday that she, too, had dropped her campaign for the local NDP nomination. She stated on social media that “it is no longer possible to run an effective NDP campaign,” because the candidate vetting process was so slow in her riding.
In an interview with the Star, Durnford said she submitted her nomination papers in early May and didn’t hear anything from the party for six weeks. After fielding questions about her online history, Durnford said she decided to withdraw this week out of concern that delays would prevent her from running a successful campaign in her Conservative-held riding.
She said that, as far as she knows, no one else is seeking the NDP nomination in Simcoe North.
“I really think this is an organizational problem. I think they have very few staff and a lot of vetting to go through,” she said. “I hope they are able to rebound from this.”
In a written response to questions Friday, the party gave the Star a statement on behalf of the NDP’s national director, Melissa Bruno.
In it, Bruno said that Durmford “repeatedly refused to provide information to the campaign, and was well aware that her vetting file could not be complete until she did so.”
Bruno also suggested the party didn’t have time to quickly review Ryan’s history, as he submitted his application “10 business days prior to his withdrawal,” and that there was there was a “substantial amount of material” to review in his case.
The NDP continues to lag behind its political rivals in choosing candidates for the federal election, which is scheduled by law for Oct. 21.
Of the 338 federal ridings, Conservatives have nominated candidates in 333, the Greens in 278 and the Liberals in 273.
The NDP has secured candidates in 178 of the federal ridings.
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In her statement Friday, Bruno said the party will field a full slate of candidates for the election.
“We are proud of our nomination process, and we will have a diverse team of excellent candidates running in each of the 338 ridings,” she said.