I hope you are doing well and enjoying the (albeit late!) summer arrival with your family and friends.
As many of you know, three months ago our party held a nomination race so that we, the local members of the Conservative Party in Dufferin-Caledon, could select our candidate for the upcoming fall federal election.
Despite Ottawa party officials deciding to schedule the vote right up against the March Break holiday, over 1,500 members came out and voted. When I was a teenager, joining the party for the first time here in Dufferin-Caledon, it was the local engagement that kept me inspired and engaged.
I was extremely proud and humbled by the significant number of members who came out to support me personally in the race.
Of the candidates who applied, the party in Ottawa permitted 4 candidates to run in that nomination:
Barb Shaughnessy, a former Caledon Regional Councillor and Mayoral candidate;
Jeremy Williams, the former Mayor of Orangeville;
Harzadan Khattra, a local conservative activist and key member of Andrew Scheer’s leadership campaign in Dufferin-Caledon;
And myself, also a local conservative activist and former staffer for our Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones.
I have maintained and still hold to this day that I was the rightful winner of the nomination vote held on March 19.
Dufferin-Caledon members voted in an election that the central party organized, planned, oversaw and directed.
Though Harzadan Khattra received the most votes on March 19, Barb Shaughnessy appealed the result to the party. Based on the contents of Barb Shaughnessy’s appeal, the party chose to disqualify Harzadan Khattra without any elaboration as to why.
Naturally, this should mean that the will of the voters would still be honoured.
Since Harzadan Khattra was no longer eligible to be the candidate, of the three remaining eligible candidates I had the most votes, and thus I should by all rights be our party’s candidate.
Last Thursday however, 86 days after the nomination vote and 49 days after disqualifying Harzadan Khattra, the party in Ottawa released an official notice stating an entire new nomination race would be held.
This caught many – including myself – by surprise. Particularly because no explanation or elaboration was given as to why the results of the original nomination race on March 19 are being ignored and disregarded.
The three candidates who already ran in the previous nomination have been told by the party they must submit new applications and start over from scratch.
New candidates who did not run in the nomination race three months ago will be allowed to run in this one.
Kyle Seeback, a former Brampton MP and prominent member of Andrew Scheer’s leadership campaign, was the first to do so, announcing his campaign last week the morning after the official notice went out.
Indeed, more candidates may very well come forward in the coming days.
This past Monday, the party urged the local board of directors to form a new local nomination committee. The individuals on this committee will work with the party to oversee and regulate yet another nomination for our riding. Part of the responsibilities of this committee include interviewing candidates and administering the vote at the nomination meeting.
With a party official present at the meeting, Kyle Seeback, who is a director on the board – and now a publicly announced candidate – was permitted to participate in the discussion and vote on who should be on the nomination committee. As I understand it, some directors present raised concern about whether this should be permitted given that Kyle himself is a candidate, their concerns were rebuked.
I am very proud of the campaign my team and I ran in the nomination race earlier this year.
My family, friends, and supporters contributed and helped me raise thousands of dollars to sustain a nomination campaign for a staggering 17 months. Together we raised more money for the nomination than the conservative campaign raised here during the last general election in 2015. We sold hundreds of memberships, and we campaigned across the entire riding for months on end.
We stayed positive, we did not attack others, we focused on the issues that matter to party members and were open and transparent with members where I stood on those issues.
I did not always agree with every member on every issue. But I was always straightforward and honest with them where I stood regardless because that’s what you deserve from a representative.
Over the course of the last 20 months I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many of you, and have been truly humbled by your kinship and support.
Given all that has transpired, I have spent the last few days seriously considering what’s next for me.
I truly do believe that Dufferin-Caledon Conservative Party members deserve a candidate who will always put the needs of our riding and its residents ahead of special interests.
As residents of this riding we deserve a Member of Parliament who will be our champion fighting for us in Ottawa, not the other way around.
Luckily I am truly blessed to have had my best friend, closest advisor, and the most important person in my life, my wife Jacquelin by my side fully supporting me every step of the way.
After a lot of deep reflection, prayer, and much discussion with my family, I have made the immensely difficult decision to not run in the second nomination race in Dufferin-Caledon.
I will continue to volunteer and be engaged around our amazing riding, and am excited to see what the future holds. And I remain optimistic that regardless of what our differences may be, when we join together as friends and neighbours honestly, respectfully, and in the spirit of fairness, and strive to build better communities and a better, more fair nation that respects taxpayers and focuses on delivering real results for Canadians, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.
From my family to yours, I wish you the very best and hope to get a chance to see each and every one of you sometime soon.