Conservatives disqualify Jim Karahalios from leadership race a second time

Conservatives disqualify Jim Karahalios from leadership race a second time

OTTAWA — Jim Karahalios won’t be allowed to run for the federal Conservative party’s leadership despite a court ruling that reopened the door to his candidacy.

Party spokesman Cory Hann said the leadership organizing committee rejected Thursday the longtime Ontario conservative activist’s candidacy — as allowed by the court ruling.

The decision came one day after an Ontario court ruled that Karahalios could be a candidate if he met certain conditions previously laid down by the party within 14 days.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell said the party’s returning officer and dispute committee overstepped their authority when they disqualified Karahalios in March after receiving a complaint from Erin O’Toole’s campaign.

The complaint alleged that Karahalios had engaged in racist and Islamophobic attacks against the O’Toole’s campaign chair.

Perell said Karahalios was entitled to resume his candidacy if over the next 14 days he came up with the $300,000 entry fee and paid additional penalties meted out by the party amounting to another $100,000.

But while he rejected the manner in which Karahalios had been ejected from the contest, Perell also ruled the party’s leadership organizing committee does have the authority to disqualify a candidate and could still choose to do so in this case — which it has now done.

In response to his expulsion, Karahalios said in an email: “I am yet to be defeated in a free, fair, and democratic vote among the members — how real elections should be decided.”

He did not answer questions about what reasons the party gave him for his disqualification or whether he intends to pursue any other legal action. Nor did he say what he intends to do with donations he had received for his aborted campaign.

The leadership organizing committee’s decision leaves just four official candidates in the race: O’Toole, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay, Toronto lawyer Leslyn Lewis and Ontario MP Derek Sloan.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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