And who were all his new-found suburban supporters, whose names didn’t appear on a printed list of members signed up before the 30-day cut-off? Riding stalwarts challenged the unlisted new arrivals, but NDP secretary Darlene Lawson vouched for one of them and waved off all objections.
Twelve names are in dispute. Given that Giambrone won by a mere two-vote margin, the outcome is now in doubt. Chhabra’s lawyer is demanding that the NDP come clean on all those mystery members at the meeting.
“If we do not receive a satisfactory response from you by Thursday, July 18, 2013 at noon, Ms. Chhabra will be forced to take legal action, including seeking an urgent order invalidating the results of the nomination meeting and requiring such a meeting to be held again prior to the byelection,” reads the letter from lawyer Paul-Erik Veel.
“The NDP is the party of fairness and justice, so I’m fighting for fairness and justice,” Chhabra told me in an interview. “I do not believe that due process was followed.”
In a letter sent Monday, Chhabra’s lawyer Paul-Erik Veel asks that the Ontario NDP immediately verify the eligibility of the voters in question. If the party cannot provide verification, Veel says Chhabra will pursue legal action, including “an urgent order invalidating the results of the Nomination Meeting and requiring such a meeting to be held again prior to the by-election.”
The NDP previously brushed off a request by the riding association for the same information regarding the disputed voters saying :
Once by-elections are over, and staff resources permit, membership lists will continue to be made available to ridings for the above purposes.
Really? Everyone knows that the provincial secretary could easily print up a riding membership list in seconds without taxing "staff resources"? Is there any reason to think that the whole Giambrone mess isn't just a (failing) attempt at cronyism where Giambrone's friends in the party bureaucracy tried to stitch up a nomination for him as part of his rehabilitation effort and, in the process, screwed an immigrant, female, disabled union activist who is exactly the sort of person who should be a candidate?
Joy Taylor has been emailing me daily updates, imploring me to write about a miscarriage of democracy.
“Can you imagine my frustration that a nomination was stolen from a vibrant, wonderful candidate in Amarjeet Chhabra?” she asked. “It is honestly keeping me awake at night.”
Taylor is a lifelong NDP activist. At age 90, that amounts to 74 years of licking envelopes and rallying to the cause. Horwath routinely greets her with a hug at party events. But when Taylor marched up to Horwath outside Giambrone’s campaign office the other day to hand her a protest note, there was no warm embrace — just stony silence.
“An illegal candidate is to run in our riding,” Taylor fumes. “I cry for people in my riding.”
And what is her message to Horwath?
“You have betrayed me.”