Former Toronto-area Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla says she wasn't planning to mount a political comeback when she invited supporters to a "special announcement" Sunday.
Dhalla raised eyebrows by holding what under other circumstances could have been a campaign launch, complete with an invitation to long-time supporters, a stage with a podium, and Liberal-red signs bearing her name. The invitation to the announcement was decorated with a Liberal Party logo.
But at the announcement itself, Dhalla was surrounded by posters that had the Liberal Party name covered by black tape, CTV News reported.
In the end, she declared that she would not be running for a Liberal nomination in any ridings.
Both Dhalla and the federal party deny she was told not to run. She says she had never requested a nomination package, the first step toward running for the party's nomination.
"We never blocked Ruby," party spokesman Olivier Duchesneau told CBC News.
In a statement posted to Facebook, Dhalla said she was under "tremendous pressure" to run in a riding in Brampton, northwest of Toronto. She was defeated in the since-redrawn riding of Brampton–Springdale by Conservative Parm Gill in 2011.
'Right and respectful thing to do'
"As every day went by, the support was growing and the pressure increasing. Out of fairness and respect I made the decision to not prolong sharing the decision any longer," Dhalla wrote on Facebook.
"At that point, given the respect and gratitude for my volunteers and supporters, I thought the right and respectful thing to do would be to share the decision in person and tell them face to face."
Dhalla didn't explain why she used old campaign signs to decorate her announcement, or why she put the Liberal Party logo on the notice for the event. Only Liberal Party candidates — not contestants for a nomination — are supposed to use the Liberal Party logo.
Dhalla's time in office wasn't without controversy. In 2009, she stepped down from her role as multiculturalism critic after allegations surfaced she had mistreated two caregivers hired for her mother.
The Liberals have faced complaints that the party steps in too often to the open nomination process. One former candidate is suing the party over her dispute about the nomination process.
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