Toronto Centre Liberal nomination ‘stinks of backroom politics,’ party members say

By Sabrina Nanji September 15, 2020

The Ontario Liberal Party is facing accusations that it shoehorned its preferred election candidate in Toronto Centre.
David Morris, an LGBTQ advocate who ran for the Grits in the riding in 2018, ultimately losing to current NDP MPP Suze Morrison, was acclaimed the Toronto Centre candidate for 2022 in an uncontested race last week. 
But grassroots Liberal members have complained to riding association president Milton Chan — who is also the OLP’s chief legal counsel and has a heavy hand in the candidate nomination and approval process — saying that Morris’ contest was undemocratic.
Hundreds of members were not given any heads-up until after the contest was closed, claimed Khuram Aftab, a card-carrying Liberal in Toronto Centre, in an email that was obtained by Queen’s Park Today. 
“Only a few members [who] get together secretly and decide among themselves is not a fair practice,” Aftab wrote, along with a request for the nomination to be recalled “so that it’s fair and democratic.”
In another email, Christopher Smith, who sits on the riding executive, claimed that a shortlist of would-be nomination hopefuls withdrew “en masse” to support Morris. That “stinks of backroom politics,” he said. 
Smith charged that Chan was paying lip service to the party’s new outreach efforts in underrepresented communities — and the optics weren’t good, especially in Toronto Centre, arguably one of the Grits’ most competitive ridings for 2022. 
Riding associations must show attempts to recruit women, BIPOC, LGBTQ and under-30 candidates. 
“The decision to make sure all nominations were done openly and inclusively was made in the context of the deaths of Breonna TaylorGeorge FloydEjaz Ahmed Choudry and Regis Korchinski-Paquet,” Smith went on to say. “Do we really want the next election to be dogged by rumours of a white cis-male stealing the nomination?” 
Smith adds Morris is “a more than qualified candidate and should have no fear of running in a contested nomination, and if he does then perhaps he is not ready to be an MPP.” 
OLP president Brian Johns maintained the proper protocol was followed in Toronto Centre. 
“Prospective contestants who expressed interest in contesting the nomination were advised the nomination was closing and given a deadline to submit paperwork. At the end of the process only one candidate, David Morris, submitted the paperwork required to run,” Johns said in an email statement to Queen’s Park Today. 

Because the Liberals have to complete 100-plus nominations before the next general election, the party has declared a state of electoral urgency, which allows Leader Steven Del Duca to appoint more candidates and change the timelines for nomination races.