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Acclaimed Liberal candidate in dark on why Ramal spurned by party association

The London Free Press with Anna Esselment 28 August 2019


“Khalil (Ramal) was in the dark for a while. Quite frankly, so was I,” Mohamed Hammoud said Tuesday evening, moments before he was to be acclaimed.

Ramal told The Free Press earlier this week he’s disappointed and hurt he wasn’t allowed to contest the nomination.

Ramal is a McGuinty-era two-term MPP who ran unsuccessfully in 2015 for the Liberals at the federal level. He’s says he signed up more than 3,500 new party members in the run-up to Tuesday’s nomination meeting, a personal record for him.

Hammoud began his campaign for the nomination in February. “I knew Kalil was running,” Hammoud said, adding party officials did not give him a reason for excluding Ramal. Nor should they, he said.

“I want my personal information kept private” and he expects the same of Ramal, he said.

Hammoud, who doesn’t live in London-Fanshawe, has worked in the riding for 18 years.

Asked if he would be reaching out to Ramal’s supporters, he replied, “I’m reaching out to everyone in the London-Fanshawe area.” Hammoud said he had planned to contact Ramal last week before the story broke of his exclusion.

Ramal was asked before the meeting at the Best Western Lamplighter Inn Tuesday evening if he planned to attend. “I don’t see a reason for me to go. When the party blocks you, I guess they don’t want me around,” he said.

Asked if his supporters were going to mount any kind of protest Tuesday, he said, “We’re civilized people.” He says the proper place for voters to express their support or disapproval is at the ballot box.

“There’s no respect for those people,” he said of the 3,500 new members he attracted to the party.

Hand-picking candidates is not new in Canadian politics.

“The party has its own rules. They are private associations,” said Anna Esselment, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo. As far as she knows, there’s nothing in Canadian law that dictates a party must be open, fair or democratic when it comes to choosing candidates.

“Nomination rules can be bypassed” in many different ways, she added, like citing electoral urgency.

That was no comfort to Ramal. “Something is not right,” he said.

In a statement earlier this week to The Free Press, the Liberal Party of Canada declined to disclose why Ramal’s nomination application wasn’t approved.

“The nomination process is being conducted fully in line with our national nomination rules,” party communications director Parker Lund wrote in an email.

Hammoud Tuesday cited studies he’s seen that 97 per cent of voters choose candidates based on party affiliation only.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the Liberal vision,” he said.

Hammoud works for AutoData. “I’m basically their culture guy,” he said, and he also has taught at both Western University and Fanshawe College.

On Oct. 21, will Ramal’s supporters come out for Hammoud?

“I don’t know if I can answer that,” Hammoud said, adding what he has in common with Ramal is they are both believers in the Liberal platform.

Anna Esselment is an assistant political science professor at the University of Waterloo.