Doug Ford's London West riding appointment riles local Tories

Days after she was given the green light by her riding association to seek the Progressive Conservative nomination in London West, Liz Snelgrove was told Saturday to step aside, because party Leader Doug Ford had appointed Andrew Lawton as the party's candidate.

Liz Snelgrove told of Andrew Lawton's appointment days after the party approved her nomination bid

Liz Snelgrove, shown here with PC Leader Doug Ford, says she was told last week she could pursue the party's nomination in London West. Then days later, she was told that Andrew Lawton was being appointed as the party's candidate. (Twitter: Liz Snelgrove)

Days after getting the green light to seek the Progressive Conservative nomination in London West, Liz Snelgrove was told on Saturday to step aside because party leader Doug Ford had appointed Andrew Lawton as the party's candidate.

​"Some people I've spoken to have said they're going to spoil their ballot because this has left such a bad taste in their mouth," Snelgrove said Monday.

Snelgrove, the executive director of a local medical company, announced on Thursday her intention to seek the nomination.

She admits that as a late comer to the nomination race, she was an underdog. 

But Snelgrove says she was told she would get a chance to sign up party members and make a pitch for their support at an open nomination meeting. 

Ford cites time crunch

Instead Ford announced Saturday he was appointing Lawton to London West along with a host of candidates in 10 other Ontario ridings, citing a time crunch.

Ford said there were 28 ridings without Tory candidates when he took over as leader in March, and his team was able to fill 17 through traditional nomination races but appointments were necessary in 11 ridings.

Monday Ford told reporters that while he "hates" the idea of appointing candidates, the move was necessary due to a time crunch and the need to get candidates in place with the June 7 election now weeks away.

"There's no one who hates appointing people more than I do," Ford said Monday. "The runway is running short right now. It takes massive resources to put these nominations on."

Ford also blamed his predecessor Patrick Brown, who quit as leader in January after facing allegations of sexual misconduct. Ford said he inherited a party that was a "total mess."

After Brown's sudden departure the PCs held a rushed leadership race, with Ford narrowly defeating Christine Elliott in March. 

But Snelgrove believes the party still had time to schedule a nomination meeting in London West next week or in early May.

"Once Mr. Ford was elected, I would have thought it would be a priority to look at those ridings where he didn't have candidates, and make sure that process was well underway," she said. "They could have scheduled a nomination meeting within the next few weeks. It's not the nominees' fault that the party waited so long to call a nomination meeting.

It's not the nominees' fault the party waited so long to call a nomination meeting,- Liz Snelgrove

"I don't think the people in London West should be penalized by not having the opportunity to hear what the nominees had to represent and then choose to support the nominee who they thought represented their interests and who could win the riding." 

Snelgrove had assumed Thames Valley District school board trustee Jake Skinner had the edge for the London West nomination because he'd spent the last two years working for it. 

Skinner didn't respond to CBC News calls for comment on Monday, but released a stinging statement over the weekend, calling the nominations "a brazen abuse of power." 

Up until he was let go along with a handful of other radio personalities on March 28, Lawton hosted a talk show on AM980. He did not respond to CBC's calls for comment Monday. 

However he did address the controversy on Twitter, saying while he was eager to have a "good old-fashioned contested nomination" the party was facing a "time crunch." 

Snelgrove says she hopes the party has learned a lesson from the outcry. She also finds it interesting that Lawton, who frequently criticized politicians on his show for ignoring the will of voters, accepted the uncontested nomination. 

"I'm sure that if he was still behind the microphone on CFPL he'd be calling this out," she said.