New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative party has been ordered by a judge to scrap what would have been its first candidate nominating convention leading up to the 2018 provincial election.
Justice Judy Clendening ruled Thursday afternoon the party cannot go ahead with the nomination scheduled for Friday in Carleton-York after a would-be candidate who missed the deadline filed a legal challenge.
Chris Duffie wants to run for the nomination but argues the party made it difficult for him to file his documents on time. He says the party wants to protect current PC MLA Carl Urquhart from facing a challenge.
Without Duffie on the ballot, Urquhart would be acclaimed.
More time to file arguments
Clendening emphasized Thursday she was not ruling on whether Duffie had a case.
Rather, she said, she wanted to give the party more time to file arguments. The party’s lawyer, Kelly Lamrock, took on the case only Wednesday afternoon.
The two sides will be back in court May 29.
Duffie’s lawyer, Kevin Toner, argued in court that the Carleton-York PC association didn’t use its usual email system to notify members that the convention had been scheduled for Friday.
“The system was in place,” he said. “It was not used.”
No proper effort, challenger says
As a result, Duffie missed the May 5 deadline to file his papers and the signatures of 15 party members.
Even though the party officials followed the timelines in the party constitution, they only did “the minimum they could get by with” in order to thwart Duffie.
“They didn’t make ‘every effort,'” Toner said, quoting a section of the party rules, “and that’s mandatory.”
Don Moore, the PC party president, argued in an affidavit that the Tories had made “every effort” by placing an advertisement in a local newspaper, as required, and by putting the meeting in a calendar on a party website.
But Toner said the calendar was “buried” on the site and took several clicks to find.