An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that Jim Karahalios should be reinstated as a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race, after he was forced from the race over a claim of racism.
A committee of Conservative Party members kicked Karahalios out of the race in March after leadership candidate and MP Erin O’Toole called for his disqualification.
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.
Karahalois suggested that Soliman was a supporter of Sharia law, based on comments Soliman had made about Sharia financing.
Karahalios strenuously denies 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.”
Karahalios needs to raise $100,000 in two weeks
Justice Paul Perell found that there was nothing to support Karahalios’s claim the party is out to get him. He did conclude, however, that the four-person committee that ousted Karahalios from the race didn’t have the authority to do so.
Challenges remain for Karahalios. He still has to raise $100,000 over the next 14 days to stay in the race — to cover the fines and obligations imposed on him over his comments about Soliman.
He was ordered to pay $50,000 dollars of his compliance deposit as a fine for his statements about Soliman. The party’s chief returning officer also ruled that, “to ensure future compliance,” Karahalios would have to put down a bigger deposit than other candidates.
In a statement issued today, Karahalios indicated he’s preparing to get back in the race.
“I am currently reviewing the court’s ruling to assess how I can best re-enter the race in a competitive manner,” the statement reads.
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.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Conservative Party noted the court’s decision found no bad faith on the part of the CPC or any of its officials.
The statement says the party plans to review the court’s decision and will implement its guidance as quickly as possible.
“We’re looking forward to a competitive race ahead, and giving Canadians the opportunity to hear from our candidates,” it reads.