Tory association defies Harper; votes to support Casey
TRURO - The Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley Conservative Association's board of directors is urging the federal party to allow Bill Casey to run in the next federal election - even if it means losing their status as board members.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week Casey was not permitted to run as the federal Conservative candidate in the next election because he challenged the Atlantic Accord's status.
Scott Armstrong, the association's president, said the 30-person board of directors was told by a "regional party staffer" Sunday that the board had to choose between Casey and the party.
Board members voted, with the "strong majority" supporting Casey.
"(The board) supports Bill Casey as the legally nominated candidate," announced Armstrong after the closed-door meeting in Truro, which for the most part, Casey was not in attendance for.
"(Casey) only did what he thought was right ... we don't feel that for doing that, and representing his constituents, that he should not be allowed to run for our party. It's not right ... we are respectfully asking the prime minister to reconsider."
The board is waiting to hear the party leadership's response and intends to meet in a week to "seriously consider what the next option will be."
Continued support of Casey could result in a disbanding of the board, Armstrong said.
The federal party "has the power to disband or shut down the executive ... but a threat has not been made."
If that happened, the association would continue to function, said Armstrong, but under new leadership.
"Whatever happens to me happens ... this is about Bill Casey," said Armstrong.
"I'm 100 per cent for Bill Casey. Bill's an excellent MP. He did a lot for us and will fight for us," said supporter Roseanne MacIsaac.
Casey was ushered back to the meeting to hear the announcement.
"I'm gratified and honoured ... The riding association just overruled the prime minister," Casey boasted to cheers.
"This is democracy at it's best ...I expect the prime minister to honour it."
Casey has been a Member of Parliament under five prime ministers and the next election would be his sixth. If the association's attempts fail to keep him as a Conservative party candidate, Casey will run as an Independent Progressive Conservative candidate.