After weeks of bad press caused by the disqualification of nominated Calgary-West candidate Shiraz Shariff, the Progressive Conservatives announced yesterday that they would be holding a new nomination meeting in that constituency.
In what amounts to a re-vote, only the four candidates involved in the original vote will be allowed to contest the new nomination on March 3. In the original vote, which was marred with controversy, Mr. Shariff was said to have defeated past Alberta Health Services chairman Ken Hughes by only a handful of votes. The third and fourth place candidates were Calgary Police Officer Mike Ellis and DeVry dean of academic affairs, Allan Ryan.
As I wrote in a previous post, this is not the first time that the PCs have had candidate nomination trouble in Calgary-West. In 1997, candidate Mike Nasser stepped down as the PC candidate after it was revealed he was the subject of a city lawsuit and several complaints regarding his business proceedings. Karen Kryczka was appointed as the candidate soon afterward.
Candidate nominations in other constituencies have also caused problems for the PC Party in the recent past:
In 2000, Bill Bhullar was forced to resign as a candidate after he defeated then-Calgary-McCall MLA Mr. Shariff in the PC nomination contest. At the time, Mr. Shariff told CBC there were irregularities at the meeting and he had asked the PC Party to look into them. It was later revealed that Mr. Bhullar had been charged with wilful damage of property in 1995 and assault in 1998. Both charges were withdrawn, but this revelation led to his resignation as the PC candidate.
A second nomination meeting was held soon after and Mr. Shariff was nominated. At the second nomination meeting, Mr. Shariff told the Calgary Herald that “Democracy has prevailed; we’ve been given a second chance. Today the people got a chance to vote again.”
In 2007, conservative activist Craig Chandler was disqualified after winning the PC nomination in Calgary-Egmont. Mr. Chandler’s controversial statements about new Albertans and his connection to the extremist Concerned Christian Coalition, led to the PC Party executive rejecting his candidacy. A second nomination contest was held and won by now-Solicitor General Jonathan Denis. Mr. Chandler did not contest that nomination and stood as an Independent candidate in the 2008 election.
In 2008, after the Calgary-Montrose PC Association failed to follow nomination rules set out by the central party, nominated candidate Ron Leech was disqualified and law student Manmeet Bhullar was appointed as the PC candidate. Mr. Leech stood as an Independent candidate in that year’s election. He is now nominated as the Wildrose Party candidate in Calgary-Greenway.
One PC Party insider has suggested to this blogger that it would be simpler to have a pre-qualification process for candidates seeking nominations in order to avoid the need to hold these types of second nomination contests. I am told that an amendment to implement this requirement was debated and defeated by delegates at the PC Party’s 2010 convention.