Image from Paul Manly's Facebook page about his cancelled NDP candidacy.
Paul Manly, the son of former NDP MP Jim Manly, has taken to social media to complain that the federal New Democrats have denied him the chance of carrying the party's banner in 2015 over concerns about his position on Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Manly said in a letter to friends and supporters posted on Facebook this week that while "the local riding executive approved" his candidacy for the NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, it was "the federal NDP executive" who would not let him run as a candidate.
"I was told verbally on the phone, that the reason was in relation to what I said and did when my father was in Israel. There was also concern that I was running to make Israel and Palestine an election issue."
In 2012, Manly's father was arrested by Israeli authorities for trying to run a naval blockade off Gaza. He was released a few days later.
Today, the NDP would neither confirm nor deny Manly's claim that his candidacy was rejected over concerns about his position on Israeli-Palestinian issues.
NDP spokesman George Soule told CBC News that "issues" arose during the vetting process, a system he said was "confidential."
Soule said the party was "open to a wide variety of opinions" and that it had, despite this particular rejection, approved the nomination of four other candidates in that riding.
Over 'two dozen' rejected
Manly's rejection by the party should not come entirely as a surprise, as it may be the result of a new vetting process put in place by Jack Layton after the 2008 campaign that has continued under Tom Mulcair.
As Brad Lavigne, Layton's campaign manager in 2011, recalls in his book Building the Orange Wave, "Jack moved quickly after the 2008 campaign to fix the process."
"In the past, vetting had taken place after the local riding had chosen a candidate.That meant it was tricky — and often too late — to instruct a local association to unselect their candidate and start over."
"Some indiscretions or bozo eruptions," as Lavigne describes them, cost the party four candidates in 2008.
The party was knocked off message when videos of B.C. candidates Dana Larsen and Kirk Tousaw, two former Marijuana Party activists, showed them smoking pot and, in Larsen's case, taking other drugs and driving while stoned.
Although the videos may have been dug up by the other parties, Lavigne conceded that the NDP had "a unique internal party arrangement that did not allow the national campaign team to deal effectively with candidate selections that went awry."
That changed under Layton, when "a rigorous vetting system" was put in place and in the lead-up to the 2011 election, the NDP rejected "more than two dozen candidate applications."
"This saved us potential embarrassment and money, and it empowered people at the local level to raise the bar on candidate search and recruitment," Lavigne said in his book.
'An election issue'
Manly said in his posting on Facebook that he had no intention of making Mideast politics "an election issue."
At the time of his father's detention in Israel, the young Manly called for the federal government to help secure his father's release.
He also expressed disappointment with the NDP's cautious stance on the matter.
Manly criticized Mulcair, who has also been trying to move the party closer to the centre, for muzzling NDP MP Libby Davies — a critic of Israel and outspoken defender of Palestinian rights.
But as Lavigne recounts in his book, it was that same "vocal position on the Middle East" that made Layton's relationship with Svend Robinson "trickier" to manage.
"The polarizing MP from B.C. wanted to serve as foreign affairs critic, but there was no way that was going to happen," Lavigne said.
Robinson stepped down as an MP in 2004 after admitting to stealing a ring from a B.C. auction house.
The Conservatives and the Liberals have also faced some complaints within party ranks over the way candidates in their parties have been nominated to run in 2015.