Maria’s new meal ticket: Ottawa West-Nepean

How to explain Ottawa city councillor Maria McRae’s abrupt Freedom 48 retirement, after a mere three terms at the trough and days before the municipal candidate registration deadline?

The River Ward prisoner of gravity, returned in 2010 with a stonking 59.55 per cent majority, certainly had little to worry about in the job security dept. To hear her tell it, it’s just time for a change, to stop and smell the ragweed and spend a little quality time with long-suffering hubby, Paul, whose contributions to Team McRae went far beyond the call of duty and Canada’s Food Guide.

“I never came home where there wasn’t been [sic] a hot meal waiting for me on the table after I’d been to a late meeting,” she wrote in a letter to constituents.

But the true motive for Maria’s retreat, say local Liberals, can be found in Ottawa West-Nepean, where Foreign Affairs Minister John Beard has ceded the field for newly-gerrymandered Nepean, and the Grits smell opportunity.

Sadly, this has attracted a dispiriting field of opportunists like Richard Mahoney (failed candidate, Ottawa Centre), Deborah Coyne (failed candidate, Toronto-Danforth, Liberal leadership), and the quite bonkers Anita Vandenbeld (failed candidate, er, Ottawa West-Nepean).

Offering up any of these shopworn retreads as party standard-bearer would be bad enough for the Libs, but the lot of them are being steadily out-hustled in membership sales by Ottawa U firebrand Nour El-Kadri (Franks passim).

The Ottawa U prof and pro-Palestinian activist is a crackerjack organizer, having worked his connections in the Arab community for a rogues’ gallery of Liberals, including Jim Watson, David McGuinty, Yasir Naqvi and Bob Chiarelli.

Alas, Tory operatives are already digging up their files on Nour’s brother, Nidal, erstwhile operator of two websites, israelcrimes.com and e-liban.com, now defunct. Both bashed the Israeli occupation in the finest tradition of vigorous free speech.

Inevitably, the sites attracted their share of spooky hotheads, with one posting at e-liban the text of the notorious “Franklin Prophesy.”

The bogus speech, first published by American anti-Semites in the 30s, is fraudulently attributed to Benjamin (Borat shurely?!—ed.) Franklin and begins, “There is a great danger for the United State of America. This great danger is the Jew,” and goes predictably on from there.

Of course, the Internet is chock full o’ kooks, and neither Nour nor Nidal endorsed the promulgation of such slimy hate lit.

Which is not to say the boys are not passionate in their defence of the Palestinians. Case in point: an April 2002 rally on Parliament Hill.

NDP sob sister Heather-Jane Robertson was booed by the crowd when she said, “there is no justification that allows suicide bombings to target innocent civilians.”

The punters were having none of this squishy can’t-we-all-just-get-along twaddle, and an organizer identified in press reports as one Nour Elkadri retorted that the Palestinians “have the right to resist in every way they think, they see possible.”

So, rather than serve up these and more stale-dated softballs to Ezra Levant, the riding executive rags the puck on the nomination meeting date to give Ave Maria time to sweep in and save the day.

Or so the story goes.

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