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tories holding second vote in calgary-west. hints at broader problems in nomination process.

Shiraz Shariff Calgary PC MLA
Shiraz Shariff

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:

Calgary-McCall

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 Both charges were withdrawn, but this revelation led to his resignation as the PC candidate.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.”

Calgary-Egmont

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.

Calgary-Montrose

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.

11 replies on “tories holding second vote in calgary-west. hints at broader problems in nomination process.”

That’s right, Dave. The amendment was defeated, soundly as I recall. A lot of the debate centered around how to make the “prequalification” process impartial and I honestly don’t see any way to do that. Constituency associations are free to add in extra hoops to their nomination processes, as long as they comply with Party rules on notice, number of nomination signatures, maximum deposit, etc. Some may ask for criminal records checks or interview the candidate, but there really isn’t a way for them to disqualify the candidate – only the Party Executive or the Leader can do that, and only after that candidate has won a nomination. It’s unfortunate that the PCAA sometimes has to take such action, but I think it is important, to keep the Party vibrant, that the nomination process be as open as possible. I know a lot of people disagree with me and I’m sure they will post that disagreement. I’m not sure that a 2nd vote in Calgary-West “hints at broader problems in the nomination process” frankly. Every Party occasionally has problems. As someone once said, “democracy isn’t perfect, but it’s the best system we have.” Or something like that.

I rarely post on blogs, but I want to say that the PC party needs a new nomination process. I agree with this blog that it would solve many of the issues to simply vet candidates ahead of time than having this process that seems to cause problems every election. I have yet to hear one good argument as to why the current system should be maintained – it is far more fair to all candidates (including those not approved) to deal with nomination contestants before the fact than after the fact. My two cents & final comment.

A party that allows memberships to be bought moments before a ballot are cast spread the big tent too big! A party that can’t guarantee membership cards are mailed out in time for a vote a month after purchase, has no screening process for potential candidates, has no means of verifying membership lists at the poll; these are all signs serious internal party reforms are required. No ability to purchase a multi year membership and conclude a leadership selection process in time for national media deadlines are further signs internal reforms are required. Thank goodness the they are still the best choice to govern, I might of had to vote for someone else.

Jonathan Denis means he rarely posts on blogs as himself. He’s probably responsible for 90% of the anonymous pro-PC content on here.

I am troubled that candidates proceed thru a process that is deemed democratic and within party rules, and then find that the candidate is unacceptable TO WHOM? Not to the folks who voted! I am troubled by the Calgary West situation in that none of the candidates, none of the scrutineers, none of the campaign, not even Ron Liepert saw a problem. Yet there is suddenly this problem – there is a process in the party to deal with these – it is called a returning officer at the polls and the right to arbitration after the fact. I see no evidence of the Party following its own rules! I can only assume that an outside force had something to gain from this action! Pity. But I do agree the “instant” party member is probably one of the reasons we are on our 3rd accidental Premier. Not a good way to run elections at any level!

Vetting candidates ahead of time by the party sounds great except that you get problems when you have people friendly to a particular clique à la Rob Anderson’s people running the Wildrose front office. Then you end up with his friends running, non friends being disqualified and candidate nomination rules only being open at the leisure of a particular preferred candidate

Wake up, I highly doubt that’s Denis. Just because somebody puts that name in the box it doesn’t mean it’s true. That’s pretty common on this blog in particular.

It could be anyone, don’t be so naive.

Smart move.
This gets the mess out of Alison Redford’s hands.
Instant memberships are not a problem.
Nomination process management is.
Staff the meeing with people who know what to do and follow the rules.

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