Kitchener-Waterloo

Cambridge riding nomination process a 'misunderstanding' says PC president

Members of the Progressive Conservatives in Cambridge say party brass went over their heads to set a nomination meeting, which goes against the party's rules. Party president Rick Dykstra called it a "misunderstanding."

'This is flat out breaking the rules,' one party member says

Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown plays a game of pickup street hockey at The Aud this summer in Kitchener. His party is being criticized by its own members in Cambridge for breaking the rules when it comes to nominations for next June's provincial election. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives says the change in deadline for nominations in the Cambridge riding was a "misunderstanding."

Cambridge riding members said they had hoped to hold a nomination meeting in November to pick a candidate for next June's provincial election.

But then last Friday, the party's executive announced the date for the nomination meeting would be Oct. 4 and anyone who wanted to be up for nomination had to have their paperwork in by Tuesday at 5 p.m.

That caught everyone off guard, local riding member Jim Karahalios said.

"Locally, everyone's felt, that I've talked to, they feel sandbagged. Central headquarters went over our heads," he told CBC News. "This is flat out breaking the rules."

Party rules

The rules on the PC party's website state each riding association needs to submit an application for permission to hold a nomination meeting.

That proposal includes a proposed date and time.

"If by Oct. 1, 2017 a riding association has not submitted an application for permission to hold a nomination meeting, the provincial nomination committee may in its discretion unilaterally schedule the nomination meeting," the rules state.

The riding needs to provide members with at least 21 days notice before the nomination meeting takes place "or at the discretion of the provincial nomination committee."

Set up 'a legitimate process'

One person who got his paperwork in before Tuesday's deadline was Paul Brown, who has previously run in the 2014 municipal election.

It seems he has since had a change of heart and told CBC News he would not comment on the situation.

"I have no comment at this time other than I have withdrawn from the nomination race for Cambridge/North Dumfries," he wrote in an email.

In an email to CBC News, party president Rick Dykstra said Thursday, "We're working with the local association board to address what is a misunderstanding."

Karahalios, who has also helped set up the group Take Back Our PC Party, said there was no misunderstanding.

"I'd like to know how it's a misunderstanding when their rules are on the website and it … says clearly they can't set the meeting unilaterally from headquarters before Oct. 1, and that's what they did," he said.

He said if it is truly a misunderstanding, then he feels the PCs should cancel their Oct. 4 meeting.

"Set-up due process, a legitimate process, so we can have a legitimate candidate with roots in the riding," Karahalios said.

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