Saturday, December 10, 2005

Former candidate quits Conservatives over take-over by religious right

There's a story from Sudbury from last week that raises again the issue of the influence of the religious right within the Conservative Party.
Party over for former Tory

The man who ran for the Conservatives in Sudbury in the 2004 election has quit the party. Stephen Butcher, who came in third place behind Diane Marleau and Gerry McIntaggart, with 9,008 votes, said he no longer supports the values of the party.

“I no longer feel the Conservative Party of Canada, under the leadership of Stephen Harper and the present national council, represent the core values of the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada prior to the merger of the two parties,” he said in a letter which he released to the media.

Butcher said he believes the party is on a mission to promote Christianity, and will make anti-abortion and anti-gay legislation a priority if they form the next government.

He also disagrees with the way in which Kevin Serviss, the present candidate for the Sudbury Conservatives, was nominated last spring. Most of the people who voted for Serviss came from the church where he is a minister, and had bought party memberships right before the nomination, he said.

The president of the riding association, Bob Bateman, said he’s sorry to lose Butcher as a party member. However, Butcher fully supported the party’s policies in 2004, he said. No rules were violated during the nomination process, said Bateman.

“I have the feeling that Stephen is smarting. He had run a hard election the last time around, and the process being what it is, he was undervoted at the convention when he would or could have been re-nominated,” he said. “I fear there may be some sour grapes here.”
(For the original story of Serviss's nomination, see the story here and here.)

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