Rebuking a decision by the United Conservative Party to disqualify candidate Zulkifl Mujahid, the board of directors of the UCP constituency association in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo has voted to continue supporting him as their candidate. The motion was passed at a meeting on April 18.
Here’s the motion:
“Zulkifl Mujhid is the UCP Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo Constituency preferred candidate. He is democratically elected.”
Mujhid became the UCP candidate after winning a hotly contested UCP nomination vote against MLA Tany Yao and construction association president Keith Plowman.
The nomination vote followed another contentious annual general meeting that saw a slate of new candidates elected to the local constituency board of directors.
The UCP announced last week that it had disqualified Mujahid after court records revealed he is being sued for defamation by Sultan Zamman, the vice-president of fundraising for the riding’s constituency association. Zamman is seeking $250,000 in damages and a further $50,000 in special damages.
The UCP is expected to appoint a candidate to replace Mujahid before the election is officially called on May 1. But the board’s motion and the former UCP candidate’s continued posting on social media as if he is still a candidate could create some difficulty for whoever the is appointed candidate by the party.
There has been some speculation that the UCP could appoint Yao as the candidate. He is a long-time friend of the MLA from the neighbouring Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche riding, Brian Jean, and endorsed him in the 2022 UCP leadership race.
Yao appears to have spent most of the past week canvassing door-to-door with UCP MLAs running for re-election in Calgary ridings.
The election in this otherwise safe UCP riding in northern Alberta could also be made even more interesting by the entry of Wood Buffalo Municipal Councillor Funky Banjoko, who is running as an Independent candidate in the riding. Banjoko earned more votes than any other candidate running for municipal council in 2021.
Suncor laboratory technician and Unifor organizer Tanika Chaisson is expected to be nominated as the Alberta NDP candidate.
There are 37 days left until Alberta’s May 29 provincial election.
UPDATE: The UCP has appointed Tany Yao as the party’s candidate in Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. With his appointment, the UCP once again have 87 candidates nominated to run in the next election (see the full list of candidates).
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