Three Wil­drose nom­i­nees dis­qual­i­fied in mem­ber­ship row

Two can­di­dates charge they were not treated fairly

Calgary Herald - - INSIDE POLITICS - KELLY CRY­DER­MAN

Al­berta’s Wil­drose party has dis­qual­i­fied three mem­bers seek­ing the nom­i­na­tion in Cal­gary-mc­call in a messy fight over al­leged made-up mem­ber­ship lists.

But on Fri­day, two of the in­el­i­gi­ble north­east rid­ing can­di­dates said they haven’t been treated fairly, and it doesn’t ap­pear the con­ser­va­tive­minded party is wel­com­ing to new Cana­di­ans.

“We’re all very up­set,” said Khalil Kar­bani, who is also head of the Taradale Com­mu­nity As­so­ci­a­tion and the pres­i­dent of the Al-he­daya Is­lamic Cen­tre.

“I feel very hurt in the way the Wil­drose has gone about this,” he said, adding party of­fi­cials have cut off com­mu­ni­ca­tion in re­cent months.

Kar­bani noted all the dis­qual­i­fied can­di­dates are of South Asian de­scent — leav­ing one white man in the nom­i­na­tion race.

“It’s looks kind of bi­ased right now,” Kar­bani said. “Let’s be crude here for awhile. The three brown can­di­dates have come in with a large num­ber of mem­ber­ships.”

How­ever, party ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Shayne Saskiw said the provin­cial can­di­date se­lec­tion com­mit­tee is sim­ply fol­low­ing Wil­drose rules, and has treated this nom­i­na­tion race like any other.

The party is al­leg­ing a num­ber of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, in­clud­ing that camps signed up peo­ple who didn’t ac­tu­ally want to join, mem­bers sup­pos­edly liv­ing at ad­dresses that don’t ex­ist, and selling du­pli­cate mem­ber­ships to the same per­son.

“Ev­ery mem­ber has to pur­chase a mem­ber­ship with their own money. We do not al­low for bulk mem­ber­ship pur­chases. We would dis­qual­ify a cheater if they were in a ru­ral area, city, who­ever they are,” Saskiw said.

A provin­cial elec­tion is ex­pected within 12 months.

Dis­qual­i­fied can­di­date and lo­cal com­mu­nity talk-show host Deepshikha Brar said she originally joined the Wil­drose party late last year be­cause she was so im­pressed with leader Danielle Smith.

“It was such a rosy pic­ture,” she said.

But at a press con­fer­ence Fri­day, Brar’s hus­band Aman com­plained to re­porters the party “doesn’t want any eth­nic can­di­dates from here.”

For her part, Brar said she is dis­il­lu­sioned with the Wil­drose party be­cause of its poli­cies on mi­nor­ity rights and im­mi­gra­tion, in­clud­ing its plans to abol­ish the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion. She said she will re­join the provin­cial Tories.

At the party, Saskiw of­fi­cials be­came sus­pi­cious about the mem­ber­ship lists handed in by Brar, Kar­bani and third dis­qual­i­fied can­di­date Bra­ham Luddu when they saw al­most 6,000 mem­ber­ships had been sold in the lead-up to the Cal­gary-Mc­Call spring nom­i­na­tion meet­ing.

“It far ex­ceeds the av­er­age num­ber of mem­ber­ships in a nom­i­na­tion,” he said.

The sched­uled May meet­ing was can­celled and the party con­ducted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the mem­ber­ship lists dur­ing the sum­mer, go­ing doorto-door and speaking to peo­ple who were sup­posed to be mem­bers.

Saskiw said can­di­dates had been given the chance to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

For his part, Kar­bani said he had a team of more than 40 vol­un­teers, and the vast ma­jor­ity of new party mem­bers came in dur­ing the last few days of the mem­ber­ship drive.

“I wasn’t aware of any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties but later on dis­cov­ered that there was. But by this time, we had al­ready sub­mit­ted the mem­ber­ships in,” Kar­bani said. “I even said to the party, ‘If you think there are a num­ber of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, take them out.’ ”

Grant Galpin, the lone Wil­drose can­di­date left in the Cal­gary-Mc­Call race, said he sup­ports the party’s ac­tions.

Luddu de­clined to com­ment.

Courtesy, Deepshikha Brar

Talk-show host Deepshikha Brar said at a press con­fer­ence on Fri­day that she has be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with the Wil­drose party.

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