Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett (right) and a report that Toronto NDPers infiltrated local campaigns
Staff here at CityCaucus.com didn't want to believe that NDP carpetbaggers were behind the negative turn last month's provincial campaign took in the Kootenay East riding, but sadly, we were disappointed. It turns out that the BC NDP enlisted City of Toronto political aides to come work in the rugged country near BC's Alberta border.
The Hon. Bill Bennett, the hard-working MLA for Kootenay East, was re-elected on May 12th in spite of a controversy that centred on campaign ads where the phrase "he's one of us" was construed to mean "Hey whitey, see you at the Klan rally on Friday night, bring your rifle and some Jack Daniels."
That little scheme came straight out of Toronto City Hall with the help of Glenn Gustafson, aid to NDP Councillor Pam McConnell, according to Bennett's campaign. Gustafson ran phone banks in Hogtown, and there were reports that the campaign was staffed with Ontario NDP organizers. Troy Sebastian, who was Bennett's NDP opponent, disputes the claims his attacks were bringing "big city" politics to the mountainous constituency.
A local blogger named MoeMan claimed to have "evidence" of Toronto NDP organizers swamping the Kootenay East campaign:
Angela Mammone who flew into Kootenay East on Thursday has spent the last few weeks organizing Toronto city council staff and Metro Toronto New Democrats to link up to phoning into Kootenay for the last few weeks. Angela works for Toronto City Councillor, Paula Fletcher. She was in charge of Mayor David Miller's tour during the last Toronto Election. She is the Chair of the Metro Toronto NDP. She was the E-Day organizer for Jack Layton's Toronto Danforth Riding last fall.
MoeMan erroneously reported that Gustafson managed Sebastian's campaign. That honour went to Casey Brennan, who works for the environmental organization Wildsight. Wildsight lists the Tides Canada Endswell Fund and the Bullitt Foundation as their many sponsors.
The good citizens of Kootenay East must not have liked all that T.O. in their midst. Bennett won the riding handily and was recently was appointed to Premier Campbell's cabinet.