Rob Anders says 'temporary Tories' hijacking nomination battle
Calgary Conservative MP reveals list of 3 people, promises to name more ahead of April 12 vote
Conservative MP Rob Anders has a list of people he accuses of being "temporary Tories" intent on blocking his bid to win his party’s nomination in the riding of Calgary Signal Hill — and he plans to release more.
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The six-term backbencher is being challenged for the nomination by former Alberta cabinet minister Ron Liepert.
At a news conference on Thursday, Anders revealed the first three names on his list — former federal Liberal candidate and nursing professor Janice Kinch, radio personality Buzz Bishop and Greg Schmidt, the former president of the Energy Council of Canada.
"My opponent has signed up people who will not vote for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party in the next federal election. They are what we call temporary Tories," Anders said.
But it appears the list has at least one case of mistaken identity.
Kinch, a Liberal candidate in 2011, says she is not a member of the Conservative Party.
"It's a lie, of course," she said. "It's not a surprise. I mean, I can't vote for or against Mr. Anders even if I were to join his party because I don't live in his riding anymore. He'll be running in Calgary Signal Hill, I will belong to Calgary Confederation."
Wrong Janice Kinch?
There is a Janice Kinch in Calgary registered as a member of the Conservative Party, but she told CBC News that Anders hasn't contacted her and she is frustrated by the confusion. It's not clear whether Anders tried to verify the three names before releasing them to the media.
I do believe this is terribly inappropriate to make these kind of comments,- nomination rival Ron Liepert
"I do believe this is terribly inappropriate to make these kind of comments about a constituent who in all good consciousness bought a membership in the party she wanted to participate in," said Liepert.
He believes Anders should apologize to the woman who lives in the newly created riding of Calgary Signal Hill.
But Anders said he will reveal other names on his list every day until nomination voting day on April 12.
Liepert believes the move "smacks of desperation." He said Anders should instead campaign on his own record.
"I'm still waiting for one concrete example from Mr. Anders pointing to something that he's achieved for residents of this riding," said Liepert.
"We will continue to campaign on a positive vein and talk about ... my track record in provincial politics. I can take you around this part of the riding, which I represented as a provincial MLA, and show you some things that I am very proud to have been associated with making happen and I would challenge him to do the same."
Dan Morrison, a former president for the board of directors of the Conservative electoral district association in Anders' riding, has said he will also challenge Anders in the upcoming nomination vote.
Struggle for the party's soul, says Anders
Anders characterized his battle with Liepert as a struggle for the soul of the Conservative Party. He said the political process is being hijacked by people who are purchasing Conservative memberships just so that they can cast a vote in support of his challenger.
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But Liepert pointed out the deadline to buy a membership to participate in the vote has already passed, so he is not sure what releasing lists of names will accomplish.
"It's an increasing sign that he is in trouble, that Anders is in trouble, because he's becoming very erratic and lashing out is his way of defending himself by accusing Ron Liepert and the other side of concocting these accusations. It gets very surreal," said political analyst Bruce Cameron.
Melanee Thomas, who teaches political science at the University of Calgary, says Anders is forgetting that broadening the party's appeal is the very tactic that put the Tories in power.
"When he says the red Tories are trying to steal everything and this is an attack against the heart of the Conservative Party, we need to take that with a grain of salt,” she said.
“Because in order to win a majority government, the Conservative Party has to expand the tent, and that's what they did."
Party scolds Anders for 'misleading' calls
But Conservative Party officials chastised Tory MP Rob Anders Thursday for what they say were misleading phone calls placed during a heated nomination battle — a pointed message that they want the race to be fair and open.
Anders' campaign placed calls to party members last week that some say left the impression they were from Liepert's campaign.
Liepert lodged a complaint with Elections Canada earlier this week.
On his campaign website, Anders responds to Liepert’s complaint, saying his volunteers were just trying to gauge support for their candidate. The website includes a link to the script used by his callers.
The opening lines include this sentence: “Can Ron Liepert count on your support in the upcoming Conservative Party of Canada nomination meeting?”
The Canadian Press obtained a letter sent to Anders by the party's powerful National Candidate Selection Committee that describes the script for the calls as inaccurate and misleading.
The letter goes on to say that Anders' campaign has an obligation to be accurate when communicating with party members.
With files from The Canadian Press