Ontario PC candidate asks party to review the nomination in Hamilton riding he won

The winner of the Ontario PC nomination contest in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas (HWAD) wants the party to hold a nomination vote again.

Ben Levitt says he wants to 'clear the air' around his win

Ben Levitt is Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas's provincial PC candidate. On Tuesday, Levitt wrote the party president asking the party to hold the nomination again to "clear the air" around his win. (Adam Lawson)

The winner of the Ontario PC nomination contest in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas (HWAD) has asked the party to hold the nomination vote again.

Ben Levitt, who won the contest at a May 2017 meeting in Ancaster, wrote the party's president Tuesday saying he wants the riding included with two others the party has agreed to do again.

"As a person of integrity, I applaud the efforts to do the right thing in view of questions raised about the conduct of party officials at those meetings," Levitt said in a statement. 

"I would similarly like to clear the air in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas."

If accepted, HWAD would join Scarborough Centre and Ottawa West-Nepean in getting new nomination votes. The party's nomination committee decided late last week to hold new nominations in the other two ridings.

The decision came after the firing or resignation of several party brass, including former party president Rick Dykstra, former executive director Bob Stanley and former leader Patrick Brown.

Controversy has surrounded Levitt's win since last May. There's even a current police investigation around the actions of some party officials.

Two contenders, Vikram Singh and Jeff Peller, asked Brown to review Levitt's nomination after what they say was ballot box stuffing at one of the voting tables. Brown bypassed a review and certified Levitt's nomination, along with several others, in June.

Singh and Peller then asked courts for a judicial review, but both later dropped their cases.

Neither of the cases alleged wrongdoing on Levitt's part, but rather focused on Dykstra, Stanley and other party staffers.

Levitt, who works in MP David Sweet's office, said he's confident he and his team had "exemplary" conduct, and added that "the media continues to report on lingering questions."

He said in an interview that he doesn't want the nomination to be a distraction from "an extremely important election."

"It was never the original intention to do it twice," he said of the nomination meeting. "But it's the right thing to do, and I'm prepared to do it again."

Singh couldn't be reached for comment. But Peller said he's not sure if he'd run again. He's not even going to think about it until the provincial nomination committee makes a decision.

He is disappointed the initial nomination committee announcement didn't include HWAD. There's "unrest" in the party over only two ridings being included, he said.

Levitt's request, he said, seems to be "an honourable move."

Ted McMeekin, current MPP and Liberal candidate for HWAD, wonders what took Levitt so long. Police have been investigating for months, and two lawsuits have come and gone.

"I'm glad there will finally be an opportunity for all PC members in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas to have their voices heard," he said in an email. "That said, it is really a shame that with less than 100 days before the writ is dropped, Mr. Levitt now wants a re-do. That's not leadership."

Sandy Shaw, HWAD NDP candidate, said it's more evidence that the PC party is disorganized.

"Only weeks from election day," she said, "it's clear that the Conservatives don't have their own house in order."

About the Author

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