Jaffer shut out of nomination process in Edmonton riding
Former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer is giving up on his political ambitions for now, after Tory sources said he was effectively shut out of the nomination process in his Edmonton riding.
A Tory who left a job at the Prime Minister's Office last week is one of the contestants in that race.
"My understanding is that the party does not want him to run," said a Conservative source. "The party is doing what the party does."
Jaffer, a former caucus chair, told the party in a letter last month that he intended to run in Edmonton-Strathcona to win back the riding he narrowly lost last fall to the NDP.
Jaffer, who is married to Tory cabinet minister Helena Guergis, explained to party brass that he's finishing up his MBA degree and travelling to China in May. He hoped they would hold the nomination process a little later.
Instead, the nomination process was kicked off last Friday, and the deadline for prospective candidates to recruit members and file papers has been set for May 22.
"It's obviously a riding that we've done well in the past in, so you always want to be ready," said party spokesman Ryan Sparrow.
But Jaffer said nobody in the party called to tell him about the early nomination deadline — he heard it through the grapevine. He said there's no way he can compete, given what's going on in his life.
"Whether or not I was going to run, if you really want to get the best possible candidates, why would you want to rush it?" Jaffer said. "There's no hard feelings .… I'm so excited on my side that I was able to get this MBA focused in the time that I did."
Jaffer would have been running against Ryan Hastman, who resigned his job working for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's chief of staff last week.
A former campaign manager for Edmonton MP Mike Lake, Cathay Wagantall, is also running.
Jaffer said having the political door closed might not be such a bad thing. The telegenic political duo are thinking about starting a family, and having two MPs in the household would be difficult.
"Both Helena and I are seriously thinking that if we want to turn attention to family, it's probably wiser that I sit this election out and focus on ourselves once this MBA is done."
A party insider said the relationship between Jaffer and Harper had grown strained in recent years, and the prime minister had given up on plans to promote Jaffer into a loftier position.
Jaffer was well-liked among his caucus colleagues, a extremely social figure who came to Ottawa with other young Reformers such as Jason Kenney.
The Ugandan-born Edmonton entrepreneur was also one of the few high-profile members from a visible minority in the Conservative caucus, and bilingual to boot.
"He was a great MP, he was a fantastic caucus chair," said MP and friend James Rajotte. "He obviously has real interpersonal skills which he exhibited, he's got a good way of managing people. He would institute a lot of policy-type sessions for caucus members which I thought were very good."
Jaffer said he will focus on building a consulting career, and supporting his wife.
"In the future, who knows, maybe at a later time once our kids are grown up and can support us, I might go back to politics."