Tory national council takes control of Calgary riding

The Conservative Party's national council has taken over the Calgary West riding, whose board members have been trying to oust the local Tory candidate for the next election.

Board of Calgary West Conservative Association trying to oust MP Rob Anders

The Conservative Party's national council has taken over the Calgary West riding, whose board members have been trying to oust the local Tory candidate for the next election.

The 30-member board of the Calgary West Conservative Association has been trying to oust MP Rob Anders and hold a nomination race in the riding.

Anders, who was first elected in Calgary West as a Reform MP in 1997, and his supporters lost control of the riding association when the board changed last year. The new board members then began gathering support for an open nomination meeting.

But when they failed to get the necessary backing of two-thirds of constituency members needed to hold a nomination race, Anders was declared the official Tory candidate.

The federal Conservative Party instituted the two-thirds requirement last year for constituencies that want to oust an incumbent. No riding was able to reach that threshold, so all sitting Conservative MPs, including Anders, were declared candidates for the next election.

Nevertheless, the board continued pursuing its efforts to organize a nomination race — which would be the riding' first since 2004 — and planned to vote on the matter at the riding association's next annual general meeting (AGM).

"Recent steps taken by the board have not respected or reflected the opinions and rights of the members of the Calgary West Conservative Association," national council president John Walsh wrote in a letter informing the riding association of the takeover. "Nor have they respected the various constitutional requirements which bind the board."

The national council has voted to take control of the AGM, Walsh wrote, and in the meantime, local board members won't have access to party funds or the riding membership list.

"National Council has been closely monitoring the events in Calgary West," the letter, obtained by the CBC, states. "The board, at a minimum, should have ensured the continued organizational and financial support for our candidate, Mr. Rob Anders.

Donna Kennedy-Glans, a lawyer who was planning on challenging Anders, said she was disappointed by the national council's decision.

"Democracy really matters, and having a board, an elected board, is a cornerstone of that democracy," she said. 

For his part, Anders insists the national council's intervention is not simply a way for him to avoid facing a nomination race.

"When people are violating the [party's] constitution, national council has to rule on behalf of the members of the party and do what they think is right to protect the interests of the party," he said.

A spokesperson for the national council said the organization will not be commenting on internal party matters.

Dan Morrison, president of riding's board of directors, also said he has no comment.