The United Conservative Party has turfed out one of its Calgary candidates over how he has dealt with questions about a financial contribution to a former party leadership contender.
UCP executive director Janice Harrington says Randy Kerr is no longer the party’s nominee for the Calgary-Beddington constituency.
“In the last 48 hours, new information has come to our attention indicating Mr. Kerr was not forthright in responding to the party’s inquiries regarding his financial contribution to the Jeff Callaway leadership campaign,” Harrington wrote in a statement issued Wednesday night.
The funding sources of the Callaway campaign are being investigated by Elections Alberta, and fines have already been levied.
Harrington stressed the decision is tied not to the contribution, but to the answers Kerr provided.
“The party is not making any allegation against Mr. Kerr regarding the legitimacy of his contribution to the Callaway leadership, nor against Mr. Callaway or his campaign,” she wrote.
Kerr could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Callaway campaign has been a subject of controversy over its mission as well as its funding.
Callaway was one of four candidates who ran against Jason Kenney for the United Conservative party leadership in 2017, but Callaway dropped out before voting day to throw his support behind Kenney.
Kenney won the contest and is now leading the UCP into an upcoming spring election.
In 2018, questions arose after a recording was made public in which UCP insiders were heard discussing Callaway running a “kamikaze” campaign for Kenney, attacking key rival candidate Brian Jean while allowing Kenney to float above the fray.
Callaway joined the race and indeed attacked Jean, who had been the leader of the Wildrose Party, which had merged earlier with Kenney’s Progressive Conservatives to form the UCP.
In the campaign, Callaway accused Jean of poorly managing Wildrose caucus funds and losing touch with the grassroots.
Both Kenney and Callaway have denied colluding in any such scheme and Harrington, in the statement, said “the matter does not in any way involve the party, our leader, nor the leader’s former leadership campaign.”
She added that Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson has not contacted Kenney or his office or members of his leadership campaign over this matter.
In recent days Gibson has fined two people over the Callaway campaign.
He levelled two fines of $7,500 each to Cameron Davies, the co-campaign manager of Callaway’s campaign, for obstruction of an investigation.
Davies, through his lawyer, has said he will fight the fines in court.
Gibson also fined Callaway contributor Karen Brown $3,500 for contributing the same amount to Callaway’s campaign but breaking election financing rules because the money was provided by someone else.
Harrington said they have forwarded the Kerr matter “proactively” to Gibson and therefore won’t comment further.
Josephine Pon, who finished second to Kerr in the Calgary-Beddington nomination, will be the new UCP candidate.
Kerr’s dismissal came on the same day voters in Calgary-Beddington saw another candidate leave the race.
Karen McPherson, a sitting member of the legislature and the candidate in that riding for the Alberta Party, announced she was pulling out for personal and family reasons.