Nova Scotia

Conservative nomination process criticized after George Canyon gets the nod

One of the men who competed to be the Conservative candidate in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova says the party should not have simply appointed George Canyon as the area's candidate after the original candidate stepped down.

'It's very disappointing to find out there are ... a different set of rules for special people'

George Canyon was selected to be the Conservative candidate in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova in the upcoming federal election. (Kiah Welsh)

Luke Young is feeling burned by the way the Conservatives decided to add some star power to the upcoming federal election by naming country singer George Canyon as their candidate in a Nova Scotia riding.

Young was one of three people who poured time and energy into a competition to represent Central Nova for the Conservatives. Young and fellow competitor Wes Surrett lost to Roger MacKay.

When MacKay stepped down on Monday for personal reasons, Young thought Conservatives in the area would once again select a candidate.

But that didn't happen. Instead, the Conservative Party appointed Canyon as their candidate on Wednesday without any competition.

"It's very disappointing to find out there are one set of rules for most people, but a different set of rules for special people," said Young.

Luke Young is one of three people who initially competed to be the Conservative candidate in Central Nova. (Submitted by Luke Young)

He said no one in the party even called to tell him Canyon was picked.

The Central Nova Conservative Association denies that. Ryan Sharpe is the organization's president. He said it was his understanding the party arranged to meet with Young on Tuesday evening.

However, he admits he didn't follow up to check if that meeting ever happened.

Sharpe said it was the Conservatives national campaign team that picked Canyon to run in Central Nova, and that they were within their rights to do so.

"If we have a candidate that steps down after they're nominated, via the nomination process, there's two avenues you can go: either another nomination process or the national campaign can appoint a candidate for your riding," said Sharpe.

Roger MacKay was the Conservative candidate for Central Nova until he announced on Monday night that he was stepping down from the federal race. (Vote Roger MacKay/Facebook)

Going through another nomination process would have been time intensive.

"It would have taken weeks and weeks and weeks, and we would have lost an incredible amount of time, and who knows if we would have even got a candidate before the writ drops, just given how the nomination contests are defined in the bylaws," said Sharpe.

'It really goes counter to everything I believe'

Surrett, the other person who initially put his name forward, declined comment.

The experience has left Young feeling bitter about politics.

He said one of the reasons he got involved in politics was because he was discouraged that big decisions that greatly impacted his rural community, such as education and health care, were being made by people living in places like Halifax and Ottawa.

Having members of his party who don't live in his area decide who would be the community's candidate really upset him.

"It really goes counter to everything I believe to have a decision like this made in Ottawa and hoisted upon us in Central Nova," said Young.

He's supporting Canyon and said he will be a good candidate. Young said the singer even phoned him after the Conservatives announced Canyon's candidacy.

Canyon has won several Juno and Canadian Country Music Association awards for his work, and currently sings the national anthem at Calgary Flames games. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

He wouldn't say what the two talked about; he would only say it was a friendly conversation.

"I believe in my heart that George Canyon is a great individual, I believe when he's given a chance that he could probably effectively represent the area," said Young. "What's discouraging to me is the process that's been used to select him."

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