Grits backtrack, support snubbed candidate

The Liberal party now says Julia Turnbull would make a strong candidate in the next federal election, after its so-called star candidate decided not to run.

The Liberal party now says Julia Turnbull would make a strong candidate in the next federal election, after its so-called star candidate decided not to run.

Former Calgary Police chief Christine Silverberg says she will not be the Liberal candidate in Calgary South Centre.

Turnbull has spent two years campaigning for the nomination, but earlier this week party officials asked her to step aside to make way for Silverberg.

In a statement released late Wednesday, Silverberg said she has decided not to seek the nomination and will pursue her legal career instead.

Daryl Fridhandler, the Alberta co-chairman for the federal Liberals, says Turnbull now has his party's backing.

"I told Julia if and when she's the candidate, I'd be 110 per cent behind her, and the whole organization would," he said. "That will be the case."

Fridhandler says the last few days have shown Turnbull will be a strong candidate.

"Julia's not one to back down from a fight," he said. "So there's a silver lining in this, perhaps."

But political scientist Keith Brownsey sees more of a dark cloud, saying any inroads the party hoped to make in southern Alberta in the next election could be lost because of the controversy.

"I think this has hurt them," Brownsey said. "It's embarrassed them. It's angered a lot of party supporters. It hasn't made them look very worthy of governing, at least in Calgary South Centre."

Turnbull, who already has billboards posted in the riding, will let her name stand for the nomination in the riding.

"I'm obviously disappointed about the lack of respect shown to my campaign team, but I am ready to roll my sleeves up and move on," she said.

The federal liberals will hold a nomination meeting Friday. If, as expected, no one else puts their name forward, Turnbull will be acclaimed as the federal Liberal candidate for Calgary South Centre.