Liberal hopeful drops out of nomination race after ex-police chief Bill Blair enters
Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair smiles during a news conference with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Monday April 27, 2015. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Adrian Wyld)
Published Wednesday, May 13, 2015 4:13PM EDT
A Liberal nomination hopeful has withdrawn his name from the contest in a Toronto riding, saying it’s become clear that former police chief Bill Blair is the party’s “preferred choice.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Michael Kempa said his “constant” campaigning in Scarborough Southwest over the past year has become professionally and financially “unsustainable.”
He said he and his team have generated “hundreds of new memberships” and built up significant support, but things changed when Blair entered the nomination race.
“Immediately following Mr. Blair’s expression of interest to join the contest, it was made clear -- through joint appearances with the leader, and appearances with other nominated candidates -- that the former chief is the Liberal Party's preferred choice to stand as the candidate for Scarborough Southwest,” Kempa, a University of Ottawa professor, said in the statement.
“While of course disappointed, I can fully understand why this is the case,” Kempa said, noting that Blair has a high profile in the community and is an “intelligent, hard-working leader.”
Last month, former CTV News anchor Tim Weber also dropped out of the Liberal nomination race in Scarborough Southwest and threw his support behind Blair.
Kempa said his withdrawal from the contest will allow the nomination process to be expedited. Four other candidates, not including Blair, are still in the race.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has touted the open nomination process, but his party has rejected some candidates in the past. In Vancouver East, for example, the Liberal review committee rejected Jodie Emery, the wife of high-profile pot crusader Marc Emery.
And last year, Christine Innes was barred from running for the Liberals in the Trinity-Spadina byelection following allegations that her husband, former cabinet minister Tony Ianno, bullied party volunteers.
Ianno has denied the allegations and argued that his wife’s candidacy was blocked to ensure that Chrystia Freeland, now a Liberal MP, would not be challenged for the nomination in a new Toronto riding after the existing ridings were redistributed for the federal election.