Candidates running for office usually reserve their harshest criticism for their political opponents, but in southern Alberta a rookie Conservative candidate and retiring Member of Parliament are turning on one Conservative MP running for re-election.
Local media reported that Conservative candidate Rachael Harder lambasted former Lethbridge Conservative MP Jim Hillyer at a forum hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce, claiming that the city endured “four years of non-representation” and “have suffered for the last four years” with her Conservative predecessor as their Member of Parliament.
But Mr. Hillyer is still running for re-election in the neighbouring riding of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner. Due to a change in electoral district boundaries, Mr. Hillyer’s hometown of Raymond is now in the new riding.
Mr. Hillyer shot back at Ms. Harder, telling a local radio station that she is also facing some of the criticisms she levelled against him. “They’re saying the same things she said about me. She’s not attending forums, she’s not listening, she’s not there,” Mr. Hillyer told CJCY radio.
Retiring Medicine Hat Conservative MP LeVar Payne, who Mr. Hillyer is running to replace in his new riding, also shared some harsh words about his colleague on Twitter, referred to him as “no show Hillyer,” in reference to claims he skipped to many public debates during the 2011 federal election.
Mr. Payne had previously announced in 2014 that he would not endorse Mr. Hillyer in his bid to become MP for the new riding.
Mr. Hillyer was first elected to parliament in 2011 and when the electoral boundaries were redrawn in 2014 he initially announced he would run against Mr. Payne for the Conservative nomination in the new Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding. After what was likely a stern directive from his Ottawa bosses not to challenge a fellow MP, he then announced that he would run for re-election in Lethbridge.
Almost immediately after Mr. Payne announced that he would retire, Mr. Hillyer then jumped back into the nomination race in the Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding.
The controversial Mr. Hillyer faced public criticism when he expressed his extreme views on gay rights and women’s reproductive rights while debating his opponents for the Conservative nomination in September 2014. Both he and Ms. Harder have been endorsed by the Campaign Life Coalition in this election.
Despite the public tension between the two Conservatives, it is likely that both Mr. Hillyer and Ms. Harder be elected to the House of Commons, which could make for an awkward working relationship in Ottawa.
2015 Election in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner
In this election, Mr. Hillyer faces New Democrat Erin Weir, Liberal Glen Allen, Green Brent Smith and Independent candidate John Turner. Ms. Harder is facing New Democrat Cheryl Meheden, Liberal Michael Pyne, Green Kas MacMillian, Christian Heritage candidate Geoffrey Capp, and Rhino Party candidate Solly Krygier-Paine.
Transposing the results from the 2011 election into the boundaries of the new Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner riding gives the Conservatives 25,659 votes (68.7 percent), New Democrats 5,578 votes (14.9 percent), Liberals 4,165 votes (11.1 percent) and the Greens 1,658 (4.4 percent).
Transposing the results from the 2011 election into the boundaries of the redrawn Lethbridge riding gives the Conservatives 21,617 votes (52.5 percent), New Democrats 12,329 votes (29.9 percent), Liberals 3,759 votes (9.13 percent) and the Greens 1,845 (4.4 percent).