Seldom-seen MP criticizes open nomination process, says he's working on project for PM

Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio, whose political future is in flux, says he does not support the open nomination process to find his future successor.

Liberal Nicola Di Iorio reconsidering his plan to quit. He hasn't been seen in Parliament since mid-September

Montreal-area MP Nicola Di Iorio. (CBC )

A Liberal MP whose political future is in flux said today he still doesn't support an open nomination process to choose his successor.

Instead, Nicola Di Iorio — who hasn't been seen in Parliament since it resumed on Sept. 17 — said there should be some sort of designation process to determine who will become the next Liberal candidate in his Montreal area riding ... and that he should have some say in it.

"I've been there for three years. I know my riding," he said in a phone interview with CBC News. "I'm a labour and employment lawyer. I've spent my career assessing qualifications of individuals. I know the job."

However, Di Iorio disputed a CBC report published Thursday which said he wants to "hand-pick" his successor.

"The leader of the party designates ... I've looked at other models where they've set up a commission, or whatever," he said. "As I said, it's not a single format, but I'm not the one designating the successor."

Still, he insisted he should have some influence in the selection process.

'The nomination becomes the election'

"You can bet," he said, when asked directly if he should get a say in the process.

Di Iorio said the party ought to consider other nomination methods because his riding, Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel, is considered safe Liberal territory.

"The problem you have there ... is that the nomination becomes the election," he said.

"You have 600 members in a riding that one evening they're available, and they're in a hall and they say, 'Yeah we're going to have this person ... I have an issue with that.

"I am not shy on expressing my views on open nominations. To me, open nominations is a tool in a tool box, where there are other tools, and we have to adapt the tools to whatever the assignment at hand requires."

Di Iorio also shed some light on why he's now reconsidering his decision to end his political career.

This past April, Di Iorio announced he would resign his office, citing family reasons. But he didn't follow through.

In September, Di Iorio published a message on Facebook announcing he was reconsidering his decision. 

"I chose to give myself a month of reflection and consultation with my family and our Prime Minister to have the necessary perspective to make the best decision for my community and my fellow citizens," he wrote.

Di Iorio said he wanted to revisit his plan to quit because his constituents want him to stay.

"I'm receiving obviously their appreciation, and also their insistence that I remain," he said. "It becomes very clear that my resignation does not seem to be an option for the good people that I meet, and I meet many, many of them."

So what has Di Iorio been up to?

Di Iorio would not say whether he's made up his mind about keeping his job as MP, but promised to reveal his plans in the near future.

Di Iorio also is defending his absence from Parliament Hill, saying he's been tasked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with specific duties away from the House.

"They are matters that require my abilities, my knowledge, my experience, my expertise, and very important, groups and individuals with whom I'm adept at interacting," he said.

While Di Iorio refused to elaborate on what he's doing with his time, a government source speaking on background said that the MP is working on projects related to road safety.

But the government source could not say when Di Iorio was excused from his House duties, nor how many other Liberal MPs have been asked to do similar projects.

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