Keith Beardsley’s View From the Hill – Blue Arrows at Orange Targets – May 20, 2011

CFN – Exactly what type of background checks and vetting did the NDP do for their candidates?

It is no secret that political parties insist that prospective candidates fill out lengthy application forms when an individual expects to run for the party. These forms are quite detailed, often several pages long, dozens of questions and a lot of the information is of a personal nature.

The main reason behind the use of these forms is to prevent political surprises once a campaign is declared or more importantly if you win election. Your education, whether or not you have ever had a criminal conviction etc are important parts of this screening process.

Added to this are interviews at the riding and sometimes the national party level. Candidates will be asked if they have been active online, especially if they have a blog or if they are part of a social media site such as Facebook. If so, those too will be scrutinized. This is done to make sure there are no comments that might come back to haunt the candidate and the party.

This is why it is surprising that some newly elected NDP MPs from Quebec are already off-side with the official party position on Quebec, which is

“The NDP is a federalist party,” said Kathleen Monk, Layton’s spokeswoman. “We all recognize that we’ve got to get past the old debates that assume that Quebec’s interests are different from those of the rest of the country. That’s just not the case.” (CNews, May 20, 2011)

Did NDP party officials not mention that to these two candidates and now MPs?

“… we have to consider the fact we have a different culture, a different identity. If there was a referendum tomorrow morning, we will see. The future will tell us,” NDP MP Marie-Claude Morin (CNews, May 20, 2011)

“…if there as a referendum, I don’t know what I would vote,” NDP MP Dany Morin (CNews, May 20, 2011)

We also have a second newly elected NDP MP whose educational credentials have raised some questions. In both cases these credentials should have been vetted by the party before they were allowed to be nominated.

While the NDP has removed their candidate’s online biographical notes, research teams for the other parties should already have made copies of them some time ago. Given time, the NDP will pick up their game and we will see fewer and fewer of these types of mistakes. But, for now, NDP communications will have a few sleepless nights.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

Scott Beck



  1. Agreed, Eric. Nor is avoiding all-candidate debates in an election, a routine practice of the Harper MPs.

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