Prentice says party had ‘good reasons’ to reject candidate in Chestermere-Rocky View

James Wood, Calgary Herald More from James Wood, Calgary Herald

Darcy Henton, Calgary Herald More from Darcy Henton, Calgary Herald

Published on: March 30, 2015
Last Updated: March 30, 2015 8:17 PM MDT

A longtime Tory barred by the party from running for a Progressive Conservative nomination says he’s hurt and disappointed and may jump to another party after the way he’s been treated by the PC brass and Premier Jim Prentice.

The party announced just after midnight Sunday that Jamie Lall had been disallowed as a candidate in Chestermere-Rocky View, leaving former Wildrose education critic Bruce McAllister to be acclaimed to represent the PCs in the riding.

No reason was given and Lall said in an interview Monday that he’s still in the dark about why he was blocked, just days before the riding’s April 1 nomination date.

“People are going to connect dots. That’s up to them. I am in a lot of ways still in shock. It’s upsetting, it’s hurtful. I think that if there was some sort of smoking gun or reason, common sense would suggest it would be brought out before that,” said Lall, who noted he was vetted twice before being appointed as the PC candidate in Calgary-Buffalo in the 2012 election.

Lall, who is also president of the PC’s Calgary-McCall riding association, said he has been a loyal Tory but hasn’t ruled out joining, or perhaps even running for, another party in the election that Prentice is expected to call this spring.

“Anything is possible. I never thought my party, the PCs, would do this to me,” he said, noting that he had been approached by multiple other parties.

McAllister is one of nine Wildrose MLAs who crossed the floor en masse to the government benches in December. Three of the defectors — Gary Bikman, Rod Fox and former party leader Danielle Smith — were defeated for PC nominations on Saturday just hours before Lall was texted at 11:27 by PC executive director Kelley Charlebois that his candidacy had been disallowed.

Some in Lall’s camp have suggested the party was motivated to stop Lall’s candidacy because of concern about losing another ex-Wildrose MLA.

Lall said he doesn’t know for sure but “the timing would probably suggest that.”

McAllister’s campaign manager, Ken Boessenkool, has said he was absolutely confident the former Wildrose MLA would have won a contested nomination.

The PC party has refused to comment on the reason for disallowing Lall’s candidacy.

Prentice also refused to disclose details Monday but defended the party’s decision.

“They made their decision in the case of Mr. Lall for good reasons,” the premier told reporters Monday in Calgary. “I’m satisfied that they made the right choice in terms of what is in the best interests of the Progressive Conservative party.”

Prentice said only “four or five” of several hundred candidates vying for nominations as PC candidates in the province’s 87 ridings were disallowed, and the party had excellent candidates nominated.

Prentice also defended the PC party’s use of a private investigator as part of the vetting process in Chestermere-Rocky View, which has raised eyebrows in some corners.

Charlebois suggested in an email on the weekend that it was not unusual, saying that “a private investigator was hired to assist with vetting in all 87 riding nominations.”

Lall said Monday that investigator Gordon Bull was “aggressive” in pressing him for phone numbers of family and friends.

Pollster and political analyst Janet Brown said Lall has been a “loyal Conservative soldier,” who appears to be well-regarded by many within the PC camp.

“The premier does have the power to step in and override a local riding association. He’s got to be careful about appearing undemocratic and, quite frankly, mean-spirited,” she said.

With files from Trevor Howell, Calgary Herald

[email protected]

[email protected]