Monday, June 25, 2007

None too bright

In case we needed yet another painful reminder that the Cons' party management is even less competent than their government, York Region unintentionally highlights a comedy of errors between a new Con candidate and the screening committee who apparently approved him:
One of the things Paul Calandra was obliged to do before becoming a candidate for the Oak Ridges-Markham Conservatives was disclose he is embroiled in a lawsuit.

While Mr. Calandra insists he told the local Tories he’s being sued by his sisters over their mother’s estate, a party official can’t confirm if such a disclosure was made.

Documents filed at the Newmarket court office show plaintiffs Milva Gehring and Concetta Calandra claim seven months before their mother died in August 2005, she revoked Mr. Calandra’s power-of-attorney.

In the statement of claim, the sisters further state their brother used the power of attorney to take out a $240,000 mortgage on their mother’s Ballantrae farm, wrote a $25,000 cheque to himself and charged a total of $7,800 on one of their mother’s charge cards without her knowledge or consent...

In the run-up to the Conservative nomination, Mr. Calandra answered the party’s 35-page candidate-search questionnaire and was interviewed by a three-member candidate-search committee.

“I told them about the suit,” Mr. Calandra said. “The nominating (search) committee knew about it and the party knew.”

Committee chairperson Solette Gelberg told the newspaper, she had “no knowledge of a lawsuit”.

One day later, after calling the candidate, the King Township resident called the newspaper and said Mr. Calandra “may have mentioned” the legal matter, stressing three potential candidates were each interviewed for two hours.

Mr. Calandra’s campaign website states he opened and successfully operated two businesses “after completing university”.

What it doesn’t say is Mr. Calandra did not graduate from Carleton University. Initially, he told the York Region Media Group he had a university degree and then after persistent questioning, he said he did not graduate because he was short credits required for a degree.

After being informed of what Mr. Calandra’s website states, Ms Gelberg suggested Mr. Calandra “fix” the education information.

A day later, she told the newspaper Mr. Calandra informed her he has enough credits for a university degree.

“He just hasn’t applied (for the degree),” Ms Gelberg said. “His website says he completed university. For him, he was finished.”
For those keeping track:
- The search committee doing due diligence on Con candidates doesn't seem to blink at an ongoing lawsuit which includes accusations of financial mismanagement.
- Meanwhile, the candidate approved by the committee can't keep track of his own education - but figures it's not a problem to err on the high side and let others correct him.
- And with both sides having so little idea what they're talking about, it's tough to tell whether the candidate also covered up his outstanding lawsuit originally, or whether the search committee was simply paying little enough attention to miss it entirely.

I suppose this is the result when a party applies an intelligence-optional standard - which may well make Calandra a cabinet candidate down the road if he proves himself as an effective trained seal through another Con election win. But it's hard to imagine that Canadian voters would want to see the Cons' foibles occupying government benches any longer than can be avoided. And it may take nothing more than the "persistent questioning" that forced Calandra to admit his exaggerations to make sure the Cons can't hide their weaknesses past another trip to the polls.

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