ALBERTA

Dropped Candidate Tom Choucair Wants Apology From Alberta PCs

03/14/2015 08:11 EDT | Updated 05/16/2015 05:59 EDT
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Alberta Legislature Building
EDMONTON - An candidate for a Progressive Conservative nomination in Edmonton wants an apology from the party after he was dropped from the race a day before the vote.

Tom Choucair also wants the nomination process reopened, and he says if the party has evidence of wrongdoing, it should show it to him and his lawyer.

Fellow Edmonton-Meadowlark candidate Steve Benson alleged in media reports Friday he was offered money to drop out of the race.

Benson didn't name names, but the party announced later in the day that it had "decided to disallow" Choucair's candidacy.

A news release from the Progressive Conservatives said the party wouldn't comment further, and the vote was scheduled to go on Saturday night with Benson and Katherine O'Neill as candidates.

Choucair says in a statement that in recent months, "certain members of the PC party" have asked him to drop out of the nomination.

He says he told them no.

"All I wanted was a fair fight," Choucair said in the statement.

"Neither I, nor any person attached to my campaign, had anything to do with the allegations of wrongdoing levelled against me."

An associate minister in Premier Jim Prentice's cabinet, meanwhile, agreed Friday to step out of the Alberta cabinet while allegations of bribery and tampering with nomination papers are investigated.

Media reports alleged that Naresh Bhardwaj, associate minister for persons with disabilities, offered a bribe to undermine the nomination papers of a rival.

Bhardwaj vehemently denied the allegations and said he has hired a lawyer to challenge them, and the Progressive Conservative Party has said it is investigating the allegations.

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