Chris Lloyd, Conservative candidate, 'messing with' party
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's Tory opponent in Papineau riding launched campaign as part of art project
- Chris Lloyd resigned as candidate Tuesday morning, says party spokesman.
A CBC News investigation has revealed the Conservative Party candidate running against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is a performance artist whose campaign is at least partially intended to "mess with" the Tories.
Performance artist Chris Lloyd was formally acclaimed as the Conservative candidate in the Montreal riding of Papineau in February.
But CBC News has learned his campaign and party involvement is part of an art project he's working on.
Lloyd has been writing a letter to the prime minister nearly every day since 2001. His topics run from the mundane to more critical.
He declined CBC's request for an interview, but freelance journalist Corey Robichaud recorded a talk Lloyd gave at an art space in Fredericton on March 5.
During that talk, he revealed how his artistic interest in Canadian politics is as varied as it is committed: on top of running a Conservative campaign, he is a member of the group Leadnow, a group bent on preventing a Conservative majority.
Active in Papineau since 2011
In 2011, Lloyd contacted his electoral riding association executives to ask about attending the national convention. He said they were initially suspicious of him, saying he didn't "seem" like a conservative.
During his talk, Lloyd said he explained to the executives he was an artist doing a project involving politics.
"But as soon as I said 'art' and 'project' and stuff like that, their eyes kind of glazed over a bit," he said.
He eventually became the electoral association's president, and in February, he was acclaimed to become the official candidate.
Since then, his winking online posts have outwardly appeared to support Prime Minister Stephen Harper. His official blog is called "Certainly not Justin."
In his speech in Fredericton, he said he's not a natural actor or role player, so he's adopted a persona, though it's unclear to what extent the party knows that.
"The easiest persona I've been able to summon up ... is to somehow convince myself that by taking on the Conservative candidature, I'm doing it to defeat some greater evil which is perhaps Justin Trudeau," he said.
"So I'm earnestly trying to unseat him and I can sleep at night with that idea, with that knowledge."
He said he has no specific objective for the project.
"I've been telling the prime minister about this whole thing from, like, the get-go with all sorts of imaginings and fantasies and options, like, 'Yeah, I'm going to become the candidate, I'm going to like mess with your party, I'm totally, like, going to wait till the writ is dropped then it's going to be party time," he said.
Nomination could be revoked
The Conservative Party still has time to revoke Lloyd's nomination. His name will not appear on the ballot until Harper signs his official papers after the writ is dropped.
But Quebec political organizer Brigitte Legault warns against parties dropping candidates too frequently.
She also said members pick candidates, and the party ought to respect the members' decisions.
"The party can still drop [a candidate], but it will be very bad for the reputation of the party ... to drop people after a long process of vetting," she said.
In the campaigns she's been involved with, Legault said there was ample vetting not only of the candidate's legal history, but also their online presence, including social media.
A spokesman for the Conservative party said Lloyd went through the same vetting process as all the other candidates.