Peller drops court challenge against PC party over Hamilton nomination

One of two would-be Hamilton PC election candidates has dropped his court challenge against the party — echoing the party's earlier words that it can nominate whoever it wants.

In a joint statement, Jeff Peller acknowledges the PC party can nominate whoever it wants

Jeff Peller was asking the court to overturn a decision certifying Ben Levitt as the Conservative provincial candidate for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas. On Oct. 20, the party issued a joint statement between itself and Peller saying Peller is dropping the case. (Jeff Peller campaign)

One of two would-be Hamilton PC election candidates taking the party to court over its handling of a local nomination meeting has dropped his court challenge — echoing the party's earlier words that it can nominate whoever it wants.

Jeff Peller, who ran for the provincial nomination in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, withdrew his court application late last week. He and the party also issued a joint statement.

"After consideration of his application on its merits, Jeff Peller acknowledges the PC party's power to control their internal candidate selection process," reads the statement, issued by the party on Oct. 20.

"On this basis, Mr. Peller has withdrawn his earlier court application."

It has echoes of the party's assertion this year that leader Patrick Brown can choose whoever he wants as a candidate — even if local party members nominate someone else.

Peller and Vikram Singh asked for judicial reviews after they say the party stuffed ballot boxes at a May 7 nomination meeting.

Ben Levitt, 25, won the nomination. Both Peller and Singh claim the party fixed the vote.

In an affidavit this year, president Rick Dykstra said Brown can choose whoever he wants as a candidate. This is true regardless of what happens at a nomination meeting.

"The nomination meeting is not determinative of who will ultimately be listed on the ballot," Dykstra said.

Singh called that a "cavalier approach" to potential vote tampering. The Liberals — who have had their own nomination challenges – issued a statement about it.

Brown, it said in July, "is unable to even manage nominations without making a complete disaster of the proceedings."

As for Peller, grandson of wine entrepreneur Andrew Peller, he appeared undeterred until last week. "They have no idea who they're messing with," Peller said in September.

In the statement, Peller "offers his endorsement and support" for Brown and the party, and its fight against "Liberal waste and mismanagement."

With Singh, the party pursued $136,315 in legal fees, which it initially won. A judicial panel stayed that decision until Singh's case is heard in early 2018.

This isn't Hamilton's only PC nomination drama. This month, the Flamborough-Glanbrook association appointed Donna Skelly. Would-be candidate Dan Sadler said the nomination process wasn't fair, open or transparent, and likened the experience to the political drama House of Cards

Elsewhere in Ontario, riding association executives have quit to protest some nominations.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca