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Houston defends decision to remove Northside-Westmount candidate


Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston speaks to the media outside of Province House in Halifax in March. - Eric Wynne
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston is shown in this file photo. - Eric Wynne
SYDNEY, N.S. —

Even with the possibility of having no PC candidate running in the Northside-Westmount riding, PC Leader Tim Houston says he still had to remove Danny Laffin as the PC candidate for the riding after learning there was allegedly a failure to comply with the party’s disclosure process.

Houston removed Laffin on Wednesday as the PC candidate for Northside-Westmount in the upcoming Sept. 3 byelection, just before the deadline for candidates closed the same day. Chartered accountant Murray Ryan, 52, has now agreed to be the candidate in the riding. He had initially considered running before but withdrew when his 100-year-old father became ill. With his father now on the mend, Ryan decided to reconsider.

Murray Ryan
Murray Ryan

“I received a phone call yesterday morning and was asked if I would be willing to revisit my decision of a few weeks ago to withdraw my name for consideration,” Ryan said. “And they said I had about an hour to let them know.”

The North Sydney resident quickly discussed the matter with his wife Joanne and son Andrew, and the timing seemed right.

“My father’s home and he’s seems to be doing pretty good — every day is a gift with him,” said Ryan. “Things seem to be settling down again and when I got this call yesterday morning, I thought, holy cow, it seems like a higher power is trying to tell me something. These sorts of opportunities are infrequent in life and given the opportunity, we revisited the whole idea and said, let’s do it.”

Removing Laffin from the ballot wasn’t an easy decision, said Houston.

“The party has a candidate-vetting process that requires the candidate to provide a bunch of information to the party and make a bunch of disclosures — so what came to light yesterday (Wednesday) was that the candidate disclosure process hadn’t been fully complied with,” Houston said Thursday. “So that caused the party to reconvene its candidate selection committee and the committee looked at it and said the process wasn’t complied with — the disclosures weren’t complete — so therefore we had to sever ties.”

Laffin remains on the ballot as an independent candidate. On his Facebook page, he told supporters, “It is with heavy heart that I am resigning as your candidate from Northside-Westmount PC Party. More information will be released after we seek legal (counsel).”

Laffin is one of seven candidates currently running in the riding along with Ryan, Ron G. Parker of the Green Party, Thomas Bethell for the Atlantica Party, Ronald Crowther of the NDP, Andrew Doyle, also an independent and Paul Ratchford for the Liberals. The winner will replace popular MLA Eddie Orrell who has resigned from his position to run federally.

Danny Laffin
Danny Laffin

With the number of candidates now set at seven, Houston acknowledges it could affect the vote but sometimes tough decisions need to be made.

“I won’t look another way as the leader of a party,” Houston said. “I’m very serious about changing the nature of politics and restoring some trust to the public in the political process. And that means you got to make tough decisions sometimes.”

Although he wouldn’t reveal the nature of what wasn’t allegedly disclosed, Houston says the fact it wasn’t done fully is what’s important.

“The relationship between the party and the candidate and the leader and the candidates and the leader and the caucus — it’s all built on trust,” said Houston. “What happened was, with a failure to fully comply with disclosures, it broke the trust. And once the trust is broken, you just can’t continue on. So that is really what happened here. There was information that should have been disclosed.”

“These are tough decisions. But it’s never too late to do the right thing.”

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Laffin not carrying PC party banner for Northside-Westmount

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