Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Powerful Camps Behind Conservative Nomination Skirmish in Ontario

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Powerful Camps Behind Conservative Nomination Skirmish in Ontario

Article excerpt

Powerful camps behind Tory nomination skirmish

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OTTAWA - A Conservative nomination battle in Ontario is pitting two powerful political camps against one another -- and causing grumbling in the ranks about party headquarters.

Paul Smith, a 50-year-old corporate executive and former assistant to prime minister Brian Mulroney, is running against 24-year-old businessman Adam Moulton in the riding of Northumberland Peterborough South.

Both men have impressive backers. Mulroney and son Ben appeared at a fundraiser for Smith last month, and he has the support of nearby MPs Erin O'Toole and Dean Del Mastro. Moulton has received the endorsement of Employment Minister Jason Kenney, and others including New Brunswick MP John Williamson.

When the local Canadian Tire, owned by Moulton's father Ralph, began selling Conservative party memberships to help his campaign, Smith's supporters cried foul. They also accused the party of closing the sale of memberships a month earlier than originally planned, leaving Smith at a disadvantage.

Photos have been widely circulating in Ontario circles of the sign placed in the entranceway of the store advertising the sale of memberships inside, and of a Canadian Tire receipt for the $15 membership. It raised questions about whether the value of selling and advertising out of a Canadian Tire would be declared by Moulton's camp as a campaign expense.

The matter was reviewed by the party's National Candidate Selection Committee, which ultimately approved Moulton to run for the nomination. But members of the local candidate screening team in the riding didn't all agree he should be given the go-ahead.

"It has been the hallmark of the CPC [Conservative Party of Canada] in my riding to stay well within the rules of E[lections]Canada during any nomination or writ period under the leadership and guidance of our MP Rick Norlock," riding association president David White wrote in an email.

"There are quite a number of folks here who believed that that is no longer the case."

But Conservative spokesman Cory Hann said the party had examined the matter.

"The party looked into this and after a review found no nomination rules or Elections Act rules were broken," Hann said in an email. …

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