Federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney says he was simply doing his job when he supported controversial MP Rob Anders during a hotly contested federal nomination race earlier this month.
Kenney’s backing of Anders drew the anger of the man who eventually won the nomination for Calgary Signal Hill, former Alberta cabinet minister Ron Liepert.
After his win, Liepert said Kenney should have stayed out of the race and accused him of monkeying around with the nomination process.
Kenney says it was his duty, as the regional cabinet minister from southern Alberta, to support the sitting MP.
Kenney, who holds the federal seat of Calgary Southeast, brushed aside any suggestion of a rift between him and Liepert.
He says it’s now his job to help get Liepert elected.
“As regional minister for southern Alberta ... my primary job is to support our local MPs, who support or prime minister and our caucus,” Kenney said Thursday.
“I congratulate Ron for his nomination win and look forward to working with him as a Conservative candidate in that constituency.
“Nominations – there are always going to be different candidates supported,” Kenney continued. “But at the end of the day, in any party, you come in behind and support the person who is selected and I’ll certainly do that.”
Calgary Signal Hill is a new riding taking in part of Calgary West, the riding Anders has held since he was first elected in 1997 under the Reform party banner.
Anders is known for his strong social conservative views and has gained attention for his sometimes inflammatory statements, including his opposition to granting honorary citizenship to Nelson Mandela.
Anders had accused Liepert’s campaign of signing up Liberal and NDP supporters in an effort to unseat him.