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NDP candidate in Mississauga bows out to support Tories Add to ...

A former New Democratic Party candidate in Mississauga has vaulted across the political spectrum and decided to back the Conservative Party.

Mustafa Rizvi, who was set to carry the NDP banner in Mississauga-Erindale for the second time, decided to resign the nomination weeks ago, a party official said in a statement. His defection, however, did not come to light until Thursday, when he declared his support for the Tories.

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Mr. Rizvi, a 31-year-old insurance adjuster, said he decided to defect because he wasn't getting enough support from his party, he thought there were no problems with the Tories' budget and he feared the NDP and Liberals would form a coalition. He said a coalition would be a bad idea, citing the example of Great Britain, where a joint government of Tories and Liberal Democrats has seen some friction.

"I was feeling there was a lack of leadership with this whole coalition factor they were trying to come through with," he told The Globe and Mail.

The Tories have repeatedly charged that the opposition parties would form a coalition if no one wins a majority government, but Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff has said he will not.

Mr. Rizvi acknowledged that jumping from the left-wing NDP to its ideological opposite was a "drastic shift of allegiance," but repeated another Tory campaign slogan in saying he couldn't back the Liberals because he thought Mr. Ignatieff might return to a teaching post at Harvard University if he lost the election.

The president of the NDP's local riding association, Abbas Khawaja, said Mr. Rizvi told him of his decision to step down a day or two after the election was called, citing the need to focus on his job and his family. He said Mr. Rizvi was nominated months ago.

He is the second NDP candidate to jump ship in this election campaign, following Ryan Dolby, who was running in Elgin-Middlesex-London. Earlier this week, he declared his support for the Liberals.

Mr. Rizvi ran for the NDP in the riding during the 2008 election, finishing a distant third with 8.6 per cent of the vote.

"He's quite an ambitious young guy," Mr. Khawaja said. "He just wanted a stepping-stone."

The party will hold a nomination Saturday at a local library to pick a new candidate. Michelle Bilek, an environmental activist and high school teacher, has been approved by the party to contest the nomination; one other candidate has expressed interest in running, but has not gained the party's approval.

The following day, Mr. Rizvi will be meeting with Tory officials.

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