EDITORIAL: Conservatives make a mess of nomination process

As a school board chair, vice-president of the Vancouver Giants and well-known man about town in Delta, the Conservatives had themselves a good candidate in Dale Saip for Delta-Richmond East.

As a school board chair, vice-president of the Vancouver Giants and well-known man about town in Delta, the Conservatives had themselves a good candidate in Dale Saip for Delta-Richmond East.

But a day and a half after his nomination win, a mystery person drops off a package at a newspaper. The package outlines Saip’s financially-troubled past: one bankruptcy plus a later protection from bankruptcy filing.

A politician with a past of money troubles. Makes great headlines. But is it really such a big deal?

Lorne Mayencourt, a former Liberal MLA and the Conservative federal candidate in Vancouver Centre in the last election, declared bankruptcy twice. And he was pretty open about it—it was one of the first things out of his mouth when he introduced himself to our sister paper, the WestEnder, back in 2001.

The 1990s were a bad decade for Saip. He threw a lot of money in an oriented strandboard mill proposal, expecting to get Chinese financial backing. Then Tianamen Square hit and the Chinese weren’t too happy about being criticized for killing unarmed protesters, so the money dried up. Throw in a divorce and a custody battle and Saip’s bottom line looked like something Jim Flaherty would come up with.

Despite knowing about Saip’s old money woes, the Conservatives forced him out on Thursday after the story broke. Saip said he was upfront with Tories all along about his past financial troubles.

There’s also been questions about Saip being allowed to seek the nomination in the first place. He wasn’t a member for the required amount of time, but that was waived by the Conservatives.

So if this all such a big deal why did the Conservatives let him run in the first place?

It likely shows that the Conservatives are running their nomination meetings with too much haste.

There was an understandable desire to get candidates in place prior to yesterday’s election call. But the mess in Delta-Richmond East is all the Conservatives’ own doing.

They’ve dumped a candidate who is seen as electable in the vote-rich Delta portion of the riding.

They’ve rejected the wishes of the majority of those who voted in the nomination meeting.

Dale Saip isn’t the one who should be embarrassed, it’s the Conservatives.