TRURO - It's definite. Bill Casey will not be returning to the Conservative fold.
The Cumberland Colchester Musquodoboit Valley Conservative riding association's plea to have Casey returned to caucus has been quashed.
The Conservative Party of Canada's national council announced yesterday the fifth-term MP will not be returned to caucus or allowed to run for the party in the next federal election.
"Our nomination rules provide that Members of Parliament who wish to run for the party must be members in good standing of the caucus," said council president Don Plett. "The MP for this riding is no longer a member of the caucus, so he cannot be the candidate."
Casey was kicked out of caucus after voting against his party's budget, which altered the Atlantic accord. After a new agreement was reached last week the riding association had hoped the party would allow Casey to run in the next election despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper making it crystal clear it wouldn't happen.
"With his budget vote, Bill Casey joined with (Liberal Leader) Stephane Dion in voting non confidence in the Conservative government and his Conservative colleagues. He made his choice," said Plett.
The local riding association plans on meeting later this week and would say little yesterday about the situation.
"This is an internal matter between the national council and our local association and we believe that it is unproductive to discuss these internal matters publicly," said acting president Scott Armstrong.
The party says it will work with the association to find a candidate to challenge Casey in the election.
For his part, Casey was not surprised by the decision. He does feel for people who are now facing a tough decision.
"I recognize how difficult it is to decide between their party and me. Many of these people have been Conservatives before Harper was born," he said.
The fifth-term MP reiterated his earlier stance to run as an Independent.
"A lot of people have offered to help with financing and I'm getting offers not just from the riding but a lot of places around the province," he said. "I think we'll be able to have enough money to run a campaign."