Rob Anders to face nomination challenge in Calgary riding
Former provincial cabinet minister part of group trying to unseat controversial MP
A former provincial cabinet minister is part of a group gearing up to challenge MP Rob Anders for the Conservative nomination in his riding for the next federal election in 2015.
Ron Liepert represented the riding of Calgary West provincially for the Progressive Conservative Party from 2004 until 2012. He held both the health and education portfolios in cabinet.
Liepert is part of the group behind the website timetodobetter.ca.
He says it's time for a change in the riding and that Rob Anders' behaviour is embarrassing to constituents.
"He's embarrassed himself to the point where I think people are ready for a change," said Liepert. "And I think democracy is best served when there's a contested nomination."
Anders has faced challenges before, including one from current Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who sought the nomination in 2004.
In the past, Anders has been aided by party rules that protect incumbents. This time, the Conservative party has pledged open nominations in all ridings ahead of the 2015 federal election.
Political insiders say changes to the riding boundaries could be a factor in the next election because the new riding of Calgary Signal Hill excludes some communities where Anders traditionally draws support.
Political scientist Duane Bratt from Mount Royal University says if Liepert chooses to seek the nomination he would be a tough opponent for Anders.
"I think Ron Liepert would be more significant than Alison Redford," said Bratt. "When Redford ran in 2004, she has never run for office before, but in the case of Liepert this is where his riding was provincially for years and he has deep roots in the party."
Anders has held the seat for 17 years and says those challenging him are not true conservatives.
"Basically it's a lot of people who would support (Liberal leader) Justin Trudeau during the general election but for the purposes of the nomination will be kind of short-term, fair-weather Conservatives," said Anders. "Don't let the party be hijacked by Liberals and Reds and New Democrats."
The chair of the group, David MacKenzie, says they will officially announce their candidate before the end of the month.
- An earlier version of this story stated the federal election would be held in 2016.Jan 06, 2014 1:58 PM MT
With files from CBC's Tara Weber