CALGARY – The man who defeated controversial Calgary MP Rob Anders for the nomination in Signal Hill took aim at one of the most powerful members of Stephen Harper’s cabinet late Saturday night.
Moments after the results showed he’d won by a comfortable margin former Alberta cabinet minister Ron Liepert took exception to the fact that Anders had received the endorsement of cabinet heavyweight Jason Kenney.
“Quite frankly I think Minister Kenney should mind his own business. He should go into his own riding and try and get re-elected in his own riding and quit monkeying around at other nominations … anywhere in this province,” said Liepert, who made it abundantly clear that he was angry at the interference.
“You’re damn right I am. Why? Because it’s none of his business.”
Liepert, 64, who held the health, energy and finance portfolios as a member of the Alberta legislature before opting not to run in the 2012 election, has never been afraid to speak his mind.
He added that he wasn’t worried about any repercussions for his criticism of Kenney.
“I don’t care. It might and I’m quite prepared do deal with it if it does,” he said.
More than 3,200 memberships were sold in Calgary Signal Hill which takes in part of Calgary West, the riding Anders has held since he was first elected in 1997 as a Reform party member. Party officials said 2,400 votes were cast Saturday.
Anders had accused Liepert’s campaign of signing up Liberals and NDP supporters in an effort to unseat him. He released the names of known Liberals Liepert recruited.
During the race, Conservative party officials chastised Anders for what they said were misleading phone calls. His campaign placed calls to party members that might have left the impression they were coming from Liepert’s campaign. If the target of the call was unsure about who they would support, the caller proceeded to criticize Liepert.
Liepert said the fact the negative campaign failed should serve as a warning to other candidates across the country.
“We’re not into negative politics and I hope this is a good lesson for everyone running going forward that you should run on your record,” he said.
“Talk about what you’ve achieved, what constituents want and stay away from the negative stuff because if there was one thing I heard from residents it was their disgust with the negativity.”
Anders is known for his strong social conservative views and gained attention for his sometimes inflammatory statements, including his opposition to granting honorary citizenship to Nelson Mandela, branding the South African leader a communist and a terrorist.
He once compared the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the 1936 Berlin Games, which were held when Germany was under the control of Adolf Hitler.
In 2012, Anders was dropped from the Commons veterans affairs committee after he lashed out at a veterans support group that had criticized him for falling asleep during a committee meeting. He later apologized for saying his critics were NDP “hacks.”
“We fought the good fight. I’m very proud to have fought for tax cuts, for standing up for families. We’ve taken a lot of great stands on a lot of great issues and it’s been fun,” said Anders.
Anders said his only regret was that the government didn’t cut taxes more.
He said it’s too soon to say whether he might consider seeking a nomination in another riding.
Liepert said constituents made it clear they were unhappy with the job Anders was doing.
“We felt right from day one we had a very motivated electorate that wanted to come out and participate and they did,” he said.
“The feeling in this riding was that it was time that we had an open, democratic nomination. Certainly the riding residents felt that way and they expressed their views. This is democracy.”
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