Conservative byelection candidate disqualified for views on abortion, says anti-abortion group

RightNow, an anti-abortion group that works to elect like-minded MPs, claimed in a media statement that Van Dorland was disqualified because of his views on the issue.

Conservatives said Gerrit Van Dorland did not disclose required information during application process

Gerrit Van Dorland smiles.
RightNow, a anti-abortion group working to elect MPs that share their views on abortion, has claimed that Gerrit Van Dorland was disqualified because of his views on the issue. (Gerrit Van Dorland for Oxford/Facebook)

An anti-abortion group is claiming a candidate running for the federal Conservative nomination in an Ontario riding was disqualified by the party because of his views on abortion.

The National Candidate Selection Committee (NCSC) of the National Council of the Conservative Party of Canada voted Tuesday night to disqualify Gerrit Van Dorland from seeking the nomination in Oxford, a district in southwestern Ontario that's considered a safe riding for the party.

RightNow, an anti-abortion group that works to elect like-minded MPs, claimed in a media statement that Van Dorland was disqualified because of his views on the issue.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said in a media statement that Van Dorland was disqualified because he failed to disclose required information during the candidate application process.

Bas Sluijmers, Van Dorland's campaign manager, said in a media statement that the campaign is "very disappointed" and his quest for the nomination was terminated with "no reasoning." He said his candidate fully disclosed all required information in the application process.

"The Conservative Party maintains that they are a party of open and fair nominations, and as such, we will be appealing this decision to the Conservative Party National Council," said Sluijmers.

Van Dorland's team did not provide a comment on RightNow's claims.

The Conservative Party spokesperson said candidates seeking riding nominations are required to fully disclose information about current or former social media accounts or websites, deleted or inaccessible social media content, and all media coverage or interviews attributed to the applicant.

"The recommendation to disqualify this individual was first made by the local Candidate Nomination Committee," said the spokesperson.

The party's Candidate Nomination Committee in Oxford did not respond to CBC's request for comment before publication.

The Oxford riding was held by veteran Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie.

In December, MacKenzie announced he would be retiring after representing the riding for 19 years. Elections Canada confirmed the Oxford riding seat was vacant on Jan. 30.

Arpan Khanna, a lawyer and former communications manager with the Conservative Party who is also running for the nomination in Oxford, tweeted Wednesday that he is "disappointed" that Van Dorland was disqualified. 

Other candidates running for nomination in the riding include MacKenzie's daughter Deborah Tait, who serves as a Woodstock, Ont. city councillor, and former Conservative communications director Rick Roth.

The Oxford riding has been a safe Tory seat for much of its existence. Conservatives have held it for 60 of the 88 years it has existed. MacKenzie won by a landslide in the 2021 election, with 47 per cent of the vote.

According to the Canada Election Act, the date of the Oxford riding byelection must be announced between Feb. 10 and July 29. The election must be held on a Monday, at least 36 days but no more than 50 days after the day the by-election is announced.


Jessica Mundie

CBC Journalist

Jessica Mundie is a journalist with CBC News in Ottawa. She was previously the Michelle Lang Fellow at the National Post. Reach her by email jessica.mundie@cbc.ca and on Twitter @jessicamundiee.


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