Tories will run candidate in Kent byelection

The Progressive Conservatives will run a candidate in the Kent byelection, the party's president has confirmed.

Nominating convention to be held March 20

The Progressive Conservatives will run a candidate in the Kent byelection, the party's president has confirmed.

Jason Stephen issued a statement on Friday, saying the Tories will hold a nominating convention for the byelection on March 20.

"We have candidates who have expressed interest in seeking the nomination for the riding," he said.

The seat officially became vacant on Monday after former Liberal MLA and former premier Shawn Graham resigned.

Last fall, when Brian Gallant won the Liberal leadership but had no seat in the legislature, Deputy Premier Paul Robichaud had said the Tories would not run a candidate against him if he could convince a sitting MLA to resign.

On Thursday, Robichaud said that offer had since expired.

No date set

Voters in Kent are still waiting to find out when they will go to the polls.

Premier David Alward has not yet announced when the byelection will be held.

He has up to six months to call it.

Gallant, who is already campaigning in Kent, is calling on the premier to call the byelection "as soon as possible."

"It seems ironic that a few short months ago, members of the Alward government were convinced that I should be debating issues from the floor of the legislature, but now are musing that they may not be in a hurry to call the byelection," Gallant said in a statement on Friday.

"There will be serious issues debated in the upcoming legislative session. The people of Kent deserve to have an elected representative speaking on their behalf," he said.

Graham resigned as MLA after he was fined and found in a conflict of interest over the controversial Atcon file.

The Graham government offered the Miramichi-based company three loan guarantees worth $50 million, despite civil servants recommending against the bailout and Atcon subsequently went bankrupt. Graham's father Alan Graham was a director with a Swedish subsidiary of Atcon.

The Progressive Conservative nominating convention will be held at the Bouctouche Community Centre, with registration starting at 5:30 p.m.

All members are eligible to vote. New members must be signed up before 4:30 p.m. on March 20, officials said.