03/24/2014 01:05 EDT | Updated 03/24/2014 04:00 EDT

Harper Endorses Rob Anders In Calgary Signal Hill Nomination Fight


Controversial Conservative MP Rob Anders says he has won the endorsement of Canada's top Tory — Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Anders, who is being challenged by former Alberta finance minister Ron Liepert to run in the new riding of Calgary Signal Hill in 2015, shared the news in a statement Monday morning.

According to Anders' release, Harper sees him as a "strong voice" in caucus.

"The Road to 2015 is one that needs strong, stable leadership and I've been able to count on Rob to get real results for his riding and our country," Harper is quoted as saying.

A Conservative Party spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost that Harper supports Anders and the quote "reflects the prime minister's views about his caucus member."

Anders was also also careful to take a dig at former Alberta premier Alison Redford, who unsuccessfully challenged him for the Tory nomination in Calgary West in 2004.

"Prime Minister Harper knows that I will always fight against tax-and-spend liberals like Ron Liepert and his good friend, Alison Redford," Anders said in the release.

Anders was first elected in Calgary West in 1997 under the Reform Party and replaced Harper after he left politics to lead the National Citizens Coalition. He framed this coming contest as an "age-old battle" between Red and Blue Tories.

"The Red Tories are like a flu that just won't go away," Anders told CBC News in January.

But Anders has been involved in a number of controversies in his 17 years on Parliament Hill.

He infamously labeled Nelson Mandela a "terrorist and a Communist" and was the sole parliamentarian to vote against making the anti-apartheid leader an honorary citizen in 2001.

After Mandela passed away in December, Anders suggested that his opinion of the man had not changed.

Anders was also caught sleeping in the House during question period and was accused of dozing off during a meeting about homeless veterans in 2012.

Anders denied passing out during the meeting and later apologized for deriding two veterans advocates as "NDP hacks" and supporters of Vladimir Putin.

YouTube user SleepyRobAnders posted a popular video of the MP nodding off in the House.

Anders also apologized for suggesting current NDP Leader Tom Mulcair hastened Jack Layton's death by encouraging him to run in the 2011 federal election despite his cancer battle.

Last October, Anders called the NDP "socialist bloodsuckers" during a speech in the House and accused the party of wanting to "acquire heroin with taxpayer money and inject it into the veins of Canada's children."

And, just last week, Anders said the world may need to respond with force to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

"I also agree with the idea that military action should not be ruled out because I think for somebody who is a thug like Putin, it's what he understands," Anders told a crowd outside Calgary City Hall.

While some may wonder why Harper would bother helping out such an unconventional politician, it appears the two have a close relationship.

Anders told reporter Laura Stone in 2012 that Harper's father, Joseph, was one of his biggest influences and served as treasurer on his first campaign.

"Lovely, lovely man. He really treasured his wife," Anders told Stone. "I remember, he said to me many a time, he said I was generally unhappy before I met Margaret, and he says, after I married her I was generally a happy man."

Columnist Lawrence Martin believes Harper protects Anders because the outspoken Albertan was loyal to him after the future prime minister first defeated his former Progressive Conservative mentor, Jim Hawkes, back in 1993.

"It was a bitter family feud and animosities between moderates in the riding and core Conservatives remained," Martin wrote in January. "Harper wants the riding to stay out of Red Tory hands and has gone to great lengths to make sure of it."

With previous files

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