Difficult situation

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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With Bill Casey on Harper's naughty list, the Tory riding president faces a dilemma

TATAMAGOUCHE - Increasing election speculation has Scott Armstrong feeling a little nervous.

TATAMAGOUCHE - Increasing election speculation has Scott Armstrong feeling a little nervous.

The president of the Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley Conservative Association stands firmly behind Bill Casey, but an early federal election could result in some tough decisions for people who've been staunch Tory supporters for years.

"Right now, Bill is still our officially nominated candidate and we're preparing for an election as we always would with Bill as our candidate," Armstrong said. "We're hoping the election won't be until 2009, but if it happens earlier everyone will have to decide who they're going to support. I hope we never have to choose, personally."

Casey, won was first elected to Parliament in 1988 and re-elected four more times beginning in 1997, was thrown out of the Conservative caucus earlier this year for voting against the government's budget because it altered the Atlantic Accord that was intended to allow Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador to maintain offshore revenues and the benefits of a new equalization plan.

If the Conservative government is defeated later this year, it's unknown if the Tories would bring Casey back into the fold for the election or refuse to sign his nomination papers. At the same time, there are no guarantees Casey would come back unless the accord is restored.

Armstrong said even if Casey is not on the Conservative ticket, the party would no doubt field a candidate. He's just not sure who party members, most of whom are loyal to Casey, would support. That's why he's hoping the election doesn't happen anytime soon.

"For us, the longer the election is away the better because that will give us a better chance at a resolution," Armstrong said. "We're hoping cooler heads will prevail this fall."

Casey is not as hopeful.

"I see no possibility other than me running as an independent and I'm glad to do that," the veteran MP said. "I take exception to what the government has done and my position has not changed. I would not go back under any circumstances if the accords amendments are not reversed and then there's no guarantee I'll go back. I don't forsee that happening between now and any possible fall election."

Casey said he has not had contact with anyone from the party since the June 6 budget vote.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Tory, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley Conservative Association

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador

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