'Having a political opinion' may have cost former PC party member his spot

Jim Karahalios, former Progressive Conservative party member in the Cambridge riding, says his party membership was revoked because of his outspoken criticisms of the party leader and nomination procedures in the party.

Cambridge riding association says Jim Karahalios was treated unfairly

Jim Karahalios has been outspoken about nomination issues in the party. (www.axethecarbontax.ca)

Criticism of Ontario Progressive Conservative party leader Patrick Brown and "having a political opinion" may have cost Jim Karahalios his party membership.

Karahalios, a former member of the PC party in the Cambridge riding, has advocated against the carbon tax. He also runs a website called Take Back Our PC Party, where he voices concerns of the party taking over the local nomination process in Cambridge.

The party sued him for allegedly using a proprietary mailing list to disseminate information to current and former members of the party. A judge found there was no merit to the lawsuit.

It's counter to the democratic process.- Jim Karahalios, former PC party member of Cambridge riding.

Losing his membership was next.

"The issue here is not only was I served with a lawsuit where they tried to silence me through the courts," he told CBC News, "They had a PC party board executive meeting in Toronto where they revoked my membership."

Karahalios said he didn't know about the meeting where his membership was in question and certainly had no chance to give a rebuttal against any allegations that may have been made in his absence.

"It's counter to the democratic process," he said.

Support from Cambridge riding

Karahalios is not alone in his fight against executive party members.

The Cambridge riding association is supporting him and has sent the executives a letter detailing their concerns with the actions taken against Karahalios.

"This is not good politics," vice president of PC Cambridge riding association Ron Dancey told CBC News.

"I've never heard of the PC party ever revoking somebody's membership, and certainly not ever not admitting someone to a convention."

Dancey said the local riding will support Karahalios's membership because the party's central leadership's actions were "unfair."

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown (centre) attended a round table session on the province's opioid crisis in August in Cambridge. The party's president, Rick Dykstra, says a nomination meeting in Cambridge that was set for Oct. 4 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Cambridge riding is not new to drama. In fall 2017, there were disagreements about when the party nominations should be held.

The party's executive shifted the deadline for nominations, with the earlier date catching candidates off-guard, including Karahalios.

"This is flat out breaking the rules," he told CBC News in September. Nominations reopened shortly afterwards.

Not isolated

Nominations for local PC party candidates also faced issues in Hamilton, where two candidates said the party executives participated in voter fraud.

Dancey said nomination issues and reports of local riding leaders around the province resigning are "disconcerting."

"I think the central party has realized that Cambridge is not a riding that will sit back and have the central party break the rules and not do things by the constitution, and that we're very feisty about that."

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