An automated phone message from the former leader of the Wildrose Party endorsing federal Conservative MP Rob Anders for the new riding of Bow River is continuing to stir controversy.
Constituents in the rural riding east of Calgary have been receiving recorded phone messages from Paul Hinman extolling the small-c conservative credentials of Anders.
“Hello, this is former Wildrose leader and Taber MLA Paul Hinman calling to ask you to vote for my friend and current Conservative Member of Parliament Rob Anders in the September Conservative Party nomination for Bow River,” Hinman says in the message.
"Rob Anders has an outstanding conservative and pro-family voting record. He has openly supported me and the Wildrose Party for years on the provincial scene."
The robocalls prompted the current leader of the Wildrose Party, Danielle Smith, to issue a statement earlier this week making it clear Hinman does not speak for the party.
“No nomination contestant in Bow River can claim the official or unofficial endorsement of the Wildrose Party,” Smith said.
Hinman is no longer an MLA but he still works for the party on a part-time basis.
The three candidates running against Anders for the nomination say they’re not impressed with the robocalls.
"I wish Rob Anders the best of luck, I hope he does well. But I would prefer that it doesn't try and make things look like a party is behind anybody because I respect that nobody has done that,” said candidate Rolly Ashdown.
Candidate Gerard Lucyshyn echoed that view. "If a candidate goes out and starts pretending they have an endorsement from somebody they don't, that is problematic," he said.
And Martin Shields says someone should take responsibility for the automated call.
"What somebody else does, if that causes a problem for someone else, then they need to deal with it,” he said.
Calls from CBC News to Hinman and Anders were not returned.
Anders, the longtime MP for Calgary West, announced earlier this summer he wanted to run in Bow River after he lost the nomination battle for the new riding of Calgary Signal Hill in April to former Alberta finance minister Ron Liepert.
Bow River covers a large swath of southern Alberta east of Calgary including Strathmore, Brooks, Taber and Vauxhall.