Kitchener-Waterloo

Cambridge's Jim Karahalios listed as 'approved applicant' for Conservative leadership

Jim Karahalios of Cambridge has been listed on the federal Conservative party's website as an "approved applicant" for the leadership race.

Conservatives to pick a new leader June 27

Jim Karahalios of Cambridge is now an “approved applicant” for the federal Conservative leadership race. Members of the Conservative Party of Canada will choose a new leader on June 27. (Provided by Jim Karahalios)

Jim Karahalios of Cambridge has been listed as an "approved applicant" for the federal Conservative leadership race on the party's website.

Karahalios also tweeted on Wednesday that his application had been approved and he thanked the "grassroots of more than 175 ridings and 10 provinces who got me into this race in three weeks."

The Conservative leadership website lists three other approved applicants: Marilyn Gladu, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.

Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole are listed as authorized contestants.

To be an approved applicant, people had to apply by Thursday, pay a fee of $25,000 and have 1,000 signatures. 

In addition to the initial $25,000 entry fee and 1,000 signatures, both MacKay and O'Toole also have submitted another 1,000 signatures each, another $25,000 entry fee instalment and a $100,000 refundable compliance deposit.

The become a verified candidate, people will need another 1,000 signatures and the final entry free instalment of $150,000. This must be submitted by March 25. This secures a person's name on the ballot.

Two leadership debates are set to take place: April 17 in Toronto and April 23 in Montreal. The Conservative Party will pick their new leader on June 27.

'High barriers' to enter race

Karahalios said reaching the financial deadline by March 25 will be a challenge.

"They've created very high barriers to get in this race — $300,000 by the end of March," he said in an interview Thursday. "It's going to be very tough to get the $300,000 by the end of the month in donations to buy into the race. But I believe, outside of the establishment candidates, if anyone can do it, it's me."

He said there were a number of candidates who flirted with the idea of running, but dropped out. 

"That's concerning to a lot of members on the ground," he said. "A leadership race should not be down to one or two candidates for the membership to choose from, that are largely mirror images of each other. They're from the establishment. They're red Tories. We need to have options."

Turmoil with provincial PCs

Karahalios is married to Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios, a member of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

He has been known for his anti-carbon tax stance, criticizing former PC leader Patrick Brown for not having a tough enough stance on the issue.

The provincial party sued him for allegedly using a proprietary mailing list to disseminate information to current and former members of the party. A judge found there was no merit to the lawsuit. 

In 2018, he filed a lawsuit against the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party over alleged "ballot stuffing" in the party president election

He alleges it cost him the 2018 election to his sole opponent, Brian Patterson.

The following year, Cambridge MPP Belinda Karahalios introduced her first private member's bill aimed at increasing transparency in internal political party elections.

Premier Doug Ford said initially the government did not support her private members bill but on Dec. 12, the bill passed second reading.

When asked if he thought the conflicts at the provincial level would impact his run for the federal leadership, Karahalios said no.

But, he said the "red Tory establishment" at both levels "have been determined to exclude grassroots members from the process and also building a movement."

"I'm standing up for integrity. I'm standing up for democracy within the party and cleaning up the process," he said. "I'm kind of surprised by the question. I see no grounds for excluding someone from the race, especially when we already have high barriers to get past the end of March."

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