Conservatives toss Karahalios out of leadership race for second time

Conservative leadership hopeful Jim Karahalios has been disqualified from participating in his party’s leadership race for a second time — just two months after he was first removed from the contest over allegations of racism.

The news comes one day after Karahalios won a decision in Ontario Superior Court that said the four-person committee of Conservative MPs that ousted Karahalios from the race in March didn’t have the authority to do so.

In that ruling, Justice Paul Perell ruled that only the party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) had the authority to remove a candidate from the race.

“With that guidance in mind, and after a thoughtful meeting to deliberate the circumstances around the chief returning officer’s decision in regards to Mr. Karahalios’ conduct, the LEOC has determined that Mr. Karahalios will be disqualified from the leadership election,” Kory Hann, director of communications for the Conservative Party of Canada, said in an email to CBC.

Fellow Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole alleged Karahalios made what the court documents call “racist Islamophobic remarks that besmirched the expressed principles of the Conservative Party” in reference to O’Toole’s campaign chair, Walied Soliman.

Karahalios suggested that Soliman was a supporter of Sharia law, based on comments Soliman had made about Sharia financing.

Karahalios strenuously denied being a racist, the court ruling notes, and argues he was ousted from the race because he was “a thorn in the side of the Conservative Party.”

Justice Paul Perell found that there was nothing to support Karahalios’s claim the party was out to get him.

“Litigation is not an MMA match where one calls out his opponent and dares him or her to enter the courtroom. The Conservative Party was astute to appreciate that Mr. Karahalios had not shown a foundation for his allegations of impropriety,” wrote Perell.

The party will hold a mail-in vote to choose its next leader. The deadline for the vote is Aug 21, but the results will be announced only when the ballots can be properly processed and examined while respecting any pandemic health guidelines in place at that time.