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Fantino foe Gary McHale arrives at court in Cayuga, Ont., on Feb. 3, 2010.CHRIS YOUNG/The Canadian Press

A group calling itself Conservatives Against Fantino says it won't change its name in order to qualify for third-party status in the upcoming Vaughan byelection.

The group's application was rejected by Elections Canada, which deemed the name too similar to the Conservative Party of Canada.

Julian Fantino, former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, is running for the federal Conservatives in the Nov. 29 byelection for the Vaughan riding just north of Toronto.

"The chief electoral officer, when he's considering an application for the registration of a third party, has to take a look to make sure that the name of the third party or the name that's being proposed by the third party will not lead to confusion and it's not similar to names of registered political parties that already exist," John Enright, a spokesman for Elections Canada, said Friday.

The group may reapply under a different name, he said.

Gary McHale, one of the group's founders, said there isn't enough time to reapply before the vote. He hopes regulators will reverse their decision.

"In the past, there have been two political parties with the word 'conservative' in it and people weren't confused at that time, so I've asked them to take another look at it."

Otherwise, the group will scale back its plans and soldier on without registering as a party, he said.

Registering as a third party would allow the group to spend up to $3,765 in advertising to support or oppose candidates in the race. Electoral rules require groups to register if they incur more than $500 in expenses.

"We've made commitments," Mr. McHale said, noting the group has already surpassed the limit by printing 60,000 flyers. The flyers will have to be thrown out and replaced with a fresh batch for less than $500, he said.

"I think our approach will change so instead of handing out a lot of flyers, we'll spend a lot more time making sure we're at public events and speaking out, which we can do for free," he said.

Conservatives Against Fantino hasn't put forward a candidate for the by-election. But the group plans to protest outside Mr. Fantino's campaign office in the days leading up to the vote.

Mr. Fantino, who stepped down as head of provincial police over the summer, is considered a front-runner in the race. He and Mr. McHale have butted heads since the 2006 aboriginal occupation in Caledonia, Ont.

The former top cop has accused Mr. McHale of baiting police and provoking confrontations during rallies at the site of the occupation. Meanwhile, Mr. McHale alleges Mr. Fantino directed provincial police to ignore infractions committed by the aboriginal occupiers.

The Vaughan riding was previously held by Liberal Maurizio Bevilacqua, who was elected the city's mayor last month.

By-elections will also be held Nov. 29 in the Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette and Winnipeg North ridings in Manitoba.

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