A man who has been vocalizing his ideas in the local political arena for several years is one step closer to gaining a national platform.
Following a court settlement earlier this week, Brian Graff will have his application to run for federal NDP leadership reconsidered by the party.
Graff, who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2014 and has been a member of the federal New Democrats for eight months, after several years as a member of the Liberal party, took the NDP to court in March after they rejected his bid to run for leadership. Graff claimed that the vetting process was “secretive” and “subjective”, and went against party ideals. He wanted the courts to force the party to look at his application again and provide a more transparent explanation of their decision.
The April 18 settlement reached between the two parties means the NDP will look at Graff’s candidacy again under a “revised approval process” that Graff hopes will open up the NDP leadership process and be used as a template in future leadership contests.
In a statement, the NDP said it was reviewing Graff’s application again “in order to avoid a costly and unnecessary legal proceeding … We remain confident that the rules and process adopted by the NDP’s Federal Council and as applied to Mr. Graff’s application are fair and appropriate.”
A statement released by Graff’s lawyers April 18 said that their client “was disqualified from seeking the party leadership in late December, following a secretive, months-long process that involved assessing him against unknown criteria. Although [NDP leadership] vaguely alluded to concerns with Mr. Graff’s views on electoral reform and immigration policy, the party ultimately rejected him without explanation.”
If his application is approved, Graff will still need to raise $30,000 to join the leadership race, now underway. Asked how he would raise that money, Graff pointed to election leadership rules that state the $30,000 could include $25,000 of his own money.
“I am taking this one step at a time,” said Graff yesterday. “I admit it, I am an underdog because I am not a sitting MP and also because I have now lost six months of time to get signatures, raise money and build an organization – this kept me out of the two debates already held.”
The first two NDP leadership debates were held in March, but candidates can join until July 3.
Graff is no stranger to a courtroom. After several years of litigation, the court recently sided with him in an OMB appeal ruling involving the former site of the Lick’s restaurant. He is also suing two Toronto city councillors, including Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, over comments made last year during the ward boundary debate at city hall.
He said he expects to hear from the NDP regarding his leadership soon.
“The new process will take a few more days to see if I am approved or not, and if again rejected for unfair or improper reasons this could go back to the court again,” he said.