With a federal election possibly just weeks away, the federal Conservatives have found themselves without a candidate in a Winnipeg riding — and neither the candidate nor the party is saying why.
Raymond Hall, 60, who was nominated to represent the Tories in Winnipeg South Centre in the fall of 2009, suddenly dropped out of the race on the weekend.
"I'm not commenting," the lawyer and former Air Canada pilot said Monday.
Party officials said they were at a loss.
"I received a letter in which he said it was for personal reasons," said Timothy Burt, Winnipeg South Centre's riding association president. "I don't know whether it's health reasons or family reasons or business reasons. I don't pry."
Both Burt and Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey said Hall's resignation was voluntary. There was no pressure on Hall to quit as far as they know. DeLorey suggested Hall may have latched onto something new in the 18 months since he was nominated.
"It's not uncommon that ... during periods of minority governments, other opportunities arise and different responsibilities take hold, but for Ray himself I can't really comment on why he decided," DeLorey said from Ottawa.
Winnipeg South Centre has been a Liberal stronghold since 1988 under former cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy and, more recently, Anita Neville. In the 2008 election, Neville beat Conservative Trevor Kennerd by 2,300 votes.
The Conservatives have not set a date for a nomination meeting to choose Hall's replacement.