Three Wildrose nominees disqualified in membership row
Two candidates charge they were not treated fairly
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.
Talk-show host Deepshikha Brar said at a press conference on Friday that she has become disillusioned with the Wildrose party.