Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Conservatives Watch for Promised Openness as Party Nominations Begin

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Conservatives Watch for Promised Openness as Party Nominations Begin

Article excerpt

Tories watch for openness in nominations

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OTTAWA - Conservatives across the country are watching closely to see whether party brass live up to their promise of fair and open nominations, as the first races quietly get underway in the lead-up to the 2015 election.

While incumbents were protected from challengers during the minority government years, this is the first time nominations have been declared fair game.

Former Alberta cabinet minister Ron Liepert, who is hoping to upset MP Rob Anders for the privilege of carrying the Conservative banner in Calgary-Signal Hill, said his team had to be on the ball to find out the nomination countdown had started in that riding.

After the Toronto Star published a leaked memo last month that said the party wanted to speed up certain nominations to help incumbents -- including Anders specifically -- Liepert's people began making calls to Tory HQ to check the date.

Sure enough, the nominations had opened last week, starting the 14-day clock.

"I fully expect the party's going to follow through on its commitment to have open nominations across the country," said Liepert, who sent his completed papers.

In Saskatchewan, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's riding of Battlefords-Lloydminster has opened for nominations, where Ritz does not appear to be facing any competition. And the nomination race for Calgary East -- MP Deepak Obhrai's riding -- has also opened.

The names of both Ritz and Obhrai had also appeared in the leaked memo as nominations the party wanted to have in the bag early.

The Canadian Press asked the party to share the names of ridings that opened their nomination processes. Spokesman Cory Hann responded in an email by saying "these are internal party matters."

Conservatives, meanwhile, are watching with interest how the race will unfold in the new Ontario riding of Oakville-North Burlington, where a longtime local Conservative will be competing against MP and parliamentary secretary Eve Adams.

There's no word on when the party will fire the starting gun there.

Adams, who currently represents the Ontario riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, is also the partner of the party's executive director, Dimitri Soudas -- a fact that has only fed the curiosity around the local nomination process. …

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