Mr. Hale refused to name the "local Dwain Lingenfelter Campaign (DLC) volunteer." But given the gravity of the problem confronting the campaign of the front-runner for the party's leadership, it's surprising that Mr. Hale did not pursue with more vigour his attempts to interview the person on whom he entirely pins the blame -- perhaps by personally visiting the north to try to locate him, or at least delegating that task to a constituency official in the Meadow Lake riding.Because given less than a week to investigate the matter, Hale would apparently have been best served spending the bulk of his time seeking out a refusal to talk at the volunteer's doorstep to match the refusals to talk that Hale received over the phone.
Perhaps it is this former senior NDP official who is solely responsible for obtaining from the band offices the names that were placed on the applications without the knowledge of those individuals, of fabricating their years of birth and signing their names to the forms. Yet, it's difficult to fathom someone with experience within the party and who surely understands its policies and procedures being so "over-exuberant" as to attempt to perpetrate a fraud on such a scale, especially when the harm from the scheme backfiring is so great.Or in shorter form: one senior official would know better than to come up with the scheme, so we must assume that many officials were involved - and indeed consider the entire party tarnished.
Mind you, there's one portion of the editorial which is slightly less misplaced. But even there, the Star Phoenix goes out of its way to try to invent a larger conspiracy than would make any sense under the circumstances:
Among the most puzzling aspects is something to which Mr. Hale refers but doesn't explore in depth in his report. He notes that "it is of significant concern" that the 1,100 applications, which have since been rejected by the party, all included the local band office as the address.It's true that we don't have much of an answer to the first half of the question - and if the matter does get investigated further, then presumably the intended followup would come into question. But there are plenty of possible answers to the second half of the question which wouldn't involve any coordination with the campaign, requiring at most either an accomplice in a band office or an assumption that the bands would allow the volunteer to distribute the party's voting packages himself. And indeed it's hard to see what a central campaign would actually be able to add to an individual scheme to turn the memberships into votes by phone or by mail.
"The striking concern is that if ballots had arrived at one address and if members were not expecting to receive ballots then there is an opportunity for abuse," he notes.
"We may never know what he intended to do or what would have happened if these ballots had been delivered. But we can say with certainty that by having the ballots delivered to one address and by not informing people that they would be receiving ballots he did increase the opportunity for abuse to an unacceptable level."
It defies logic that one person, however excited he was at the prospect of his candidate winning the party's leadership, would go to the bother of signing up 1,100 people as members of a political party without their knowledge unless there was some plan to actually translate those memberships into votes at the convention.
So, who exactly would have been doing the voting, and could one person arrange for such an undertaking without support from a candidate's organization?
But then, the Star Phoenix also wilfully misses the most important point: whatever intentions may have been involved in the scheme had were easily thwarted. So while there's still reason for substantial concern about Lingenfelter's efforts to declare the issue closed as a matter of personal responsibility within his campaign, there's absolutely no basis to pretend that the "NDP brand" should be impacted by anything but the party's immediate and proper push for the best possible investigation under the circumstances.