Update: 1:45 p.m.
Tracy Gray is accusing her Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative nomination rival Renee Wasylyk of not being aware of federal Election Act guidelines in relation to the candidates’ forum Wasylyk is organizing for March 29.
On Monday afternoon, Gray issued a statement saying the legal advice she received not to attend the forum—she was invited to attend by Wasylyk—was based on Elections Canada’s Political Financing Handbook, which says contributions to nomination campaigns cannot be made by corporations.
Wasylyk originally lined up JDS Mining to sponsor the forum.
While the company has now dropped out, Gray said “abandoning” JDS as a sponsor “raises more questions” about the organization of the event.
She said she will not attend any forums or debates not sanctioned by the Kelowna-Lake Country Electoral District Association. The association originally planned to hold a debate between Wasylyk and Gray prior to the April 6 nomination vote, but cancelled its plans. That was when Wasylyk stepped in, saying she would organize a candidate forum because, according to her, a majority of party members in the riding wanted it to go ahead.
She invited Gray to attend, but Gray declined.
Renee Wasylyk said she plans to go ahead with her March 29 forum on her own, despite the absence of her only rival in the Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative nomination race, Tracy Gray.
“We are absolutely going to move forward,” said Wasylyk. “This is going to be a great event for all members who want to get to know more about me as a candidate.”
Gray was invited to participate but said she will as she has been told both the event and her participation would contravene the federal Elections Act.
Wasylyk said that claim is wrong.
“Democracy is legal,” said Wasylyk in a response to the Capital News Monday. “I am disappointed that Tracy chose the way that she did, but our constituents deserve to be heard and to ask questions. Any assertion that there is anything illegal about a forum is patently false.”
Gray said the event, organized by Wasylyk, is not sanctioned by the Kelowna-Lake Country Electoral District Association and she has “multiple” legal opinions saying the event and her participation would contravene the Elections Act.
Gray said she will to provide more details about why she opted out later today.
Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative nomination candidate Tracy Gray has declined to participate in a candidates’ forum with her rival Renee Wasylyk.
Citing “multiple legal opinions,” Gray said she was told the event was not sanctioned by the party’s electoral district association and may contravene the federal elections act.
“I have been informed participating in this event may hold me in contravention of the Canada Elections Act,” stated Gray in an email to Wasylyk she released to the media.
Gray said in the email she feels after seven months of campaigning for the nomination, she believes party members in the riding are ready to vote.
Voting for the nomination is scheduled for April 6 at the Ramada Hotel in Kelowna. The winner of the nomination will challenge incumbent Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr in next October’s federal election.
Gray said while she will not participate in the forum, she plans to focus her energy in the last few days of the nomination campaign on engaging party members.
“Together as Conservatives, we cannot lose sight of the true opposition—a very expensive, hypocritical, scandalous (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau Liberal government that needs to be held to account,” stated Gray in the email.
Wasylyk has yet to say if she plans to proceed with the March 26 event on her own.
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