Ontario PC Party Waging Silent War On Belinda Karahalios’ Riding Association

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on August 17, 2020

Since Ontario MPP Belinda Karahalios was removed from caucus by Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford for voting against Bill 195, a sort of quiet war has been waged on Karahalios’ riding association in Cambridge.

Karahalios sent out an email to her constituents detailing how the PC party has been violating its own rules around being neutral towards riding associations and allowing them to be independent, as well as trying to prevent Karahalios from ever running again for the party.

MPP Belinda Karahalios speaking in Queens Park

MPP Belinda Karahalios speaking in Queens Park

What seems to be going on is that higher-ups in the PC party want to get rid of Karahalios completely, but do not want to cause a whole other scandal by publicly stating that she is banished from the party and can’t run again for the PC party in two years.

Instead, the PC party seems to be going after Karahalios’ riding association, which she is still a part of since electoral district associations are independent from the main party caucus. Despite now sitting as an independent MPP, Karahalios still has Cambridge PC association support. 

Karahalios stated: 

Immediately following my caucus removal, the Cambridge PC riding association board came under attack from a constant stream of bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics, by the unelected staff at Ontario PC Party headquarters and their proxies…

This would be backed up by the recent resignation of the Cambridge PC board president, who the riding association claimed to have resigned due to the stream of abuse in a complaint made to Elections Ontario.

Our Association’s prior president resigned as a result of threats, bullying, and intimidation tactics, made against him by a senior staffer of the Ontario PC Party – Director of Organization, Gareth Neilson – through phone calls and emails that took place starting in and around July 24th, 2020.

After the president resigned the PC parties strategy against Karahalios became more clear. 

Rather than passing the presidency of the Cambridge riding associations to the person next in line, the PC party instead started directly meddling within the association and insisted that they would be picking the next president.

The person the PC’s chose to be Cambridge Association President also happened to be partners with a staffer at the PC party headquarters.

On top of pushing for a PC party friendly president, – who would go against Karahalios – the party also is trying to force into place a new CFO in an attempt for the party to install someone who will freeze the association’s money from going to Karahalios.

Email regarding the freezing of riding association funds.

Email regarding the freezing of riding association funds.

The association’s board was given a week to discuss the issue of the new President and CFO, and whether to recognize the party’s imposition of a new president; or to reassert their independence and choose the Cambridge Association President – who had already chosen to be the ex-president’s successor.

The PC party technically could have called for a general meeting of the Cambridge association and had all local PC members vote on who the new president should be; and if the CFO should be replaced, but the party did not seem confident in pursuing a vote. 

Instead of sticking to their own ultimatum, the PC party before the vote could even be held decided instead to “derecognize” the Cambridge PC association board. 

The term “derecognize” is not an actual legal term in Ontario election laws, but it is being used for a very specific reason: The PC party cannot actually get rid of any electoral district association affiliated with the PC party unless the association has been shown to have violated the law, which the Cambridge association has not. 

Email regarding the “derecognizing” of the Cambridge PC riding association.

Email regarding the “derecognizing” of the Cambridge PC riding association.

In this case “derecognize” simply means the PC party is going to shun Cambridge for not following their directives that would damage Karahalios.

Ending off her email to constituents, Karahalios stated what is currently happening to her and the Cambridge PC riding association is the sort of thing she thought has ended after Patrick Brown stepped down as leader; instead, Karahalios says problems have only seemed to have “gotten worse”. 

I ran for office because I thought our Ontario PC Party had turned the corner after the 2018 leadership.

But instead of cleaning things up, the rotten and corrupt culture that made its way into the Ontario PC Party under the leadership of Patrick Brown and Rick Dykstra, has only gotten worse under the leadership of Doug Ford and Brian Patterson.

Premier Ford or the PC party have not stated what their motivations are in the aggressive way they are currently treating Karahalios’ board. 

Randy Hillier was removed from the PC party caucus in early 2019, but has not faced attacks on the independence of his district association, so there definitely are questions that need to be answered by the Ontario PC party to get to the bottom of what the PC party is attempting to do.

Elections Ontario will be investigating this matter as they have assigned a case number to the complaint made to them by the leadership of the Cambridge PC riding association. 

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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