It would be foolish to assume a move by Martin to install Cunningham would be racist. The Prime Minister appointed Ujjal Dosanjh in Vancouver South and Shirley Chan in Vancouver East. It may simply be a case of Martin considering Cunningham the best person for the job.
But the riding executive makes a legitimate point in describing the appointment as undemocratic. Citizens in any riding should have the right to choose their candidate. If Cunningham is the best person for the job, why is he shying away from competing against Kuo and Lee on his own merits?
This is a good question, with an interesting answer. The fact is, the nomination process — as it is currently run by the various parties — is susceptible to manipulation. Highly capable people are understandably reluctant to subject themselves to a system they believe is flawed.
It's not uncommon, for example, for those contesting nominations to skew the competition by signing up busloads of instant members or blocs of ethnic voters, including people not of voting age, not citizens of Canada or living outside the riding.
The appointment of candidates is an antidote to this trend, and can assure that some capable individuals become candidates. But it also subverts grassroots democracy. It is, therefore, incumbent upon all parties to fix the flaws in the nomination process.
If the system of manipulated races and appointed candidates continues, whatever public confidence that remains in the system will be further eroded, if not destroyed.