The PC Leadership Convention 2011 Rules Committee has issued its ruling on the messy business raised by Mr. Brad Cabana:
The problem with Mr. Cabana's appeal argument is that it is based on a false premise. In general terms he stated that the Constitution of the PC Party does not have a formal definition of a member and that without a clear definition of what constitutes a member, the Party should follow the spirit of the Constitution, remain consistent with its stated purpose, aims and objects and uphold the principles of democracy by equating the eligibility for membership referred to in Article 5(1) with actual membership. Contrary to Mr. Cabana's submission, this Committee finds that the Constitution incorporates a clear definition of what constitutes membership in the Party.
Article 5(1) establishes eligibility for membership by requiring that a potential member be resident or domiciled in the Province and that they “support the principles and aims of the Party”. By satisfying these two stated conditions, one becomes eligible for membership in the Party. However, that does not mean that eligibility can somehow be equated to actual membership. To the contrary, Articles 5(2) and 5(3) go on to state how actual Party membership is established or consummated.
...[O]nce you are eligible to be a member pursuant to the conditions stated in Article 5(1), if you are a member of any of the aforementioned affiliated associations and groups, then you shall be a member of the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Therefore, contrary to Mr. Cabana's appeal argument, there is a clear definition of how one becomes a member of the PC Party. If you are an individual member of one of the enumerated affiliated associations or groups in Article 6, then providing you are a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador and you support the principles and aims of the Party, you are a member of the Party. Alternatively, if you are a member of the Provincial Executive Council as defined in Article 7, then providing you support the principles and aims of the Party, you are a member of the Party. These definitions of membership are clear.
[Boldface in the original, underlining added.]
“Member” is not defined in the definitions section of the Constitution, or in the Appendix thereto which governs the nomination and election of a new leader when that office becomes vacant from time to time. This means that one has to read the Constitution as a whole, as the PC Leadership Convention 2011 Rules Committee has done, to find out what the word “member” means.
So here's the funny thing: having gone through this exercise, we now know what the m-word means according to the interpretation of the PC Party itself. But the m-word is found in numerous other parts of the Constitution, including Article 12, which governs the selection of the Party's election and by-election candidates. Article 12, Section 3 provides:
6. Eligible voters entitled to vote for a person to be elected as the Party Candidate are those persons who are members of the District Association, ordinarily resident in the Electoral District at the date of the Nominating Meeting and who are not less than eighteen (18) years of age either at the date of the nominating meeting or at the date of the election, if the date of the election has been set.In order to vote in a PC Party nomination meeting, you must be a member of the Party, as defined by the Constitution, and as helpfully clarified by the Rules Committee. You gotta jump through the hoops, not just walk in off the street.
But as John Babb and others have constantly bragged, throughout the Danny-Dunderdale era, the Party is an “open” party, in which anyone — not just members — can vote in a nomination.
Which means, if the Rules Committee's ruling on Cabana is correct, then every contested PC nomination during the Danny-Dunderdale era has been conducted improperly, contrary to the PC Party's own constitution.
Every. Single. One.
Joan Burke, Dave Denine, Kathy Dunderdale, Clyde Jackman, Charlene Johnson, Tom Marshall, Bob Ridgeley and Shawn Skinner all won contested “open” nominations during the 2003 general election run-up. (Darin King did as well, but went on to lose the election; his 2007 nomination was uncontested.)
Ed Buckingham, Steve Kent, Terry Loder, Calvin Peach, Tracey Perry, Susan Sullivan, Wade Verge, and Wally Young all won contested “open” nominations in the 2007 campaign.
Jim Baker, David Brazil, Felix Collins, Sandy Collins, Tony Cornect, Derrick Dalley, Paul Davis, John Dinn, Clayton Forsey, Terry French, Keith Hutchings, Darryl Kelly, Kevin Parsons and Kevin Pollard all won contested “open” nominations to be PC by-election candidates from 2002 to 2010.
Only Tom Hedderson, Roger Fitzgerald, Ray Hunter, and the Osborg (by virtue of being the sole survivors from the B.D. (Before Dan) era); and Harry Harding, John Hickey, Jerome Kennedy, Kevin O'Brien, Patty Pottle and Ross Wiseman (by virtue of being acclaimed) would appear to have never won a contested “open” PC Party nomination.
Every one of their colleagues — every single one — became a PC party candidate in a voting procedure that the PC Party Rules Committee, in the matter of Re Cabana, has by necessary implication now ruled internally unconstitutional.
Oh yes — as also did Mr. Vaughn Granter last week in Humber West.
If Brad Cabana is wrong, and the Rules Committee is right, then thirty-one Tory MHAs, a majority of Members of the House of Assembly currently sitting — and more than half the cabinet, including the Premier herself — got there by way of a process that their own party now regards as unconstitutional.