June 21st, 2024

Local poli-sci instructor says UCP’s lack of vetting Beasley could bite them

By Gillian Slade on July 18, 2018.

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Jim Groom, political science instructor at Medicine Hat College, is seen in this News file photo. Groom says the United Conservative party's delay in vetting one-time Brooks-Medicine Hat nomination candidate could come back to bite the party.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

The UCP’s delay in fully vetting Todd Beasley until about a week before the vote could come back to haunt the party, says a political science instructor.

“The obvious answer is to vet everybody before … right at the beginning,” said Jim Groom, political science instructor at Medicine Hat College.

Beasley submitted his application to run as a contestant for the United Conservative Party in the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding about a month ago. Last week he was informed by the party that two derogatory Facebook posts about Islam he’d made in May 2017 had come to light. Beasley was subsequently asked to withdraw his application.

The delay in fully vetting candidates comes down to a staffing issue handling the vast number of applications, said Jeff Henwood, UCP director of political operations, this week.

Groom says they should have hired some students to help process the applications sooner.

Beasley claims he verbally told the party on three occasions and once in writing about the posts. He did not supply the actual text of the posts because he was under the impression that they were no longer on the Internet. After they were revealed, Beasley has said he stands by what he said because, in his opinion, it made sense in the context in which he said them.

A News request for an interview with UCP leader Jason Kenney declined Tuesday. It is considered a party matter rather than a caucus one, a spokesperson said.

Vetting contestants starts with a nominating committee of four from the local constituency association, says Jeff Lanigan, president of the UCP’s Brooks-Medicine Hat riding association. They were instructed to remain impartial. Interviews with each potential contestant took about 90 minutes. The nominating committee makes recommendations on contestants but can’t disqualify them.

Lanigan says he will be trying to find out how Beasley was approved initially.

There was talk of the “controversial post” but details of the post were not available, said Lanigan. Nobody on the committee tried searching the Internet for the posts.

“If we would have seen that post he would have been gone,” said Lanigan, who suggests Beasley was only partially truthful with the committee.

Lanigan says each contestant was treated impartially, and on reflection, it would have been better to tell Beasley that without a copy of the text, approval could not be given until a full investigation was done.

Groom wonders if perhaps the UCP had too much going on, including establishing local constituency associations and boards in each riding, not to mention election of candidates in 87 ridings. He says they may have been unnecessarily rushing, considering the next election is, at the earliest, in March 2019.

Groom also said that without rethinking the game plan, the UCP runs the risk of some people suggesting it is simply another Wildrose party.

“The last thing that the UCP want to appear to be is intolerant,” said Groom.

The suggestion that the party deliberately delayed the vetting to gain memberships from each contestant does not hold water, said Groom. The contestant pays $2,000 when applying and then typically sells many party memberships during the run-up to the vote.

Boosting the party coffers is important but is really “small potatoes in the big scheme of things when you get so much negative press,” said Groom. They may gain new members through the process but run the risk of losing members as a result of a situation such as Beasley’s.

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