Following claims of voting irregularities at the recently held Calgary-West Progressive Conservative nomination meeting, Tory sources are saying that Premier Alison Redford may find a new candidate to carry her party’s banner in that constituency.
The hard fought nomination battle saw former Calgary-McCall MLA Shiraz Shariff shock political watchers by defeating past Alberta Health Services Chairman Ken Hughes. A former Member of Parliament, Mr. Hughes was a member of Premier Redford’s transition team and was seen as a star candidate for the PCs.
The constituency is currently represented by Finance Minister Ron Liepert, who is not seeking re-election. Sources say that the new candidate could be someone other than Mr. Hughes.
This is not Mr. Shariff’s first brush with controversy. In 2008, private-citizen Naheed Nenshi spoke to CBC about what he believed were irregularities carried out at the polls by Mr. Shariff’s campaign workers during the 2004 election. Mr. Shariff narrowly defeated Liberal Darshan Kang in that election (Mr. Kang later defeated Mr. Shariff in the 2008 election).
This would not be the first time the PCs have had to find a last minute replacement for a candidate in Calgary-West.
In 1997, Premier Ralph Klein‘s barber 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. The runner-up from the previously held nomination meeting cut her Mexican vacation short to fly back and hold the party banner in the election. Karen Kryczka served two terms as MLA after that.
The Tories are also expected to appoint candidates to challenge popular Liberal MLA Kent Hehr in Calgary-Buffalo and NDP MLA Rachel Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona. No candidates entered the previously scheduled nomination contests in these two constituencies. Sources suggest that recent Calgary-McCall PC nomination candidate Jamie Lall will be appointed in Calgary-Buffalo. This will be the second consecutive election where the PCs have had to appoint a candidate to challenge Ms. Notley.
UPDATE: A media release from the PC Party says that Mr. Shariff is no longer the candidate in Calgary-West. Jamie Lall and Emerson Mayers have been appointed as PC candidates in Calgary-Buffalo and Edmonton-Strathcona. See the comment section of this blog post for the entire text of the media release.