I am disappointed with both MP Joe Preston and Karen Vecchio’s lack of direct response to the core issue being discussed recently.
This is not an issue about whether Karen does a good job as Joe’s Executive Assistant, as I am sure she works hard. The issue that frustrates many residents of Elgin Middlesex London riding is that it is clearly evident since Karen won the Conservative nomination, that Joe, as her campaign manager, has not been attending public events, which then provides Karen the opportunity to get as much public exposure as possible for her candidacy. It is a well choreographed maneuver that I think many of the taxpayers of EML can see through and take exception.
I am also surprised that Joe actions were supported by Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist from the University of Toronto, rather than Joe dealing with the issue directly. However, I am very pleased to see that both Karen and Joe have responded so quickly to the issues I have raised and have started a discussion on this matter in the community.
Any effort to use Wiseman’s opinion as a defense is misdirected. While Wiseman is correct in identifying that Karen is a political staff, he is misinformed to suggest that her role is obviously partisan.
Ian Brodie, Prime Minister Harper’s former Chief of Staff from 2005-8, wrote on this issue in 2012 in “The Canadian Parliament Review” and stated that “political staff cannot do partisan work, and so must resign or take a leave of absence from the public payroll when they work on election campaigns or party events”. Karen did not do that when she ran for the nomination, nor has she done that now as she actively campaigns as the Conservative candidate for EML.
This issue is not about how hard an MP or an Executive Assistant works, or whether they can run for office or not. The issue is about the attempt to massage public opinion and perception by using Joe’s office to get as much exposure for his Conservative candidate in the next election, while Karen’s salary is being paid for by the Canadian taxpayer.
Anyone who makes the commitment to run for public office and wants to serve should be commended. I wish Karen all the best in her campaign but it should not be launched or run from the pulpit of Joe’s office. And I look forward to seeing Joe back to representing the residents of EML at local events. Welcome back Joe.
Elgin Middlesex London Federal Liberal Riding Association
St. Thomas, Ontario