Conservative Party of Canada Rejects Nomination Bid of Well Known BC Social Conservative Harper challenged to stop allowing “outrageous muzzling” of right of social Conservative to participate in process
By John-Henry Westen
SURREY, BC, February 9, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Heather Stilwell is a familiar name in the Newton-North Delta riding of British Columbia where she was aiming to run as a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada in the next federal election. Stilwell is one of the longest currently serving trustees on the Surrey School Board, having been first elected in 1990 and since then re-elected from times. From 1996 to 1999 she served as Chair of the Surrey School Board. Previously, this mother of eight children was the founding president of a local Merchants’ Association, and ran a small business in Surrey.
But those strong credentials did not stop the Party brass in Ottawa from cutting off her attempt to run for the nomination. Prior to launching her campaign to become the Conservative nominee, Stilwell was warned that the Party would not allow her to run due to her history as a prominent advocate for the right to life and the traditional family.
That warning came after the Party had either outright forbidden or surreptitiously thwarted attempts by other social conservatives to enter the race to become candidates for the Party. Notably in 2005, the Party forbade social conservative John Pacheco from contesting the Conservative nomination in an Ottawa riding. Pacheco was the main organizer of the Ottawa Marriage March which drew over 15,000 people to Parliament Hill. Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, with Pacheco’s permission, spoke at that massive rally. Weeks later the Conservatives denied Pacheco the opportunity to attempt to represent the Party.
While Pacheco’s rejection was open, Stilwell’s rejection was undertaken under cover of technicality. All her paperwork was in order, except for a copy of a police check. The police were to mail the report directly to the Party, and Stilwell assured the Party the police had put the report in the mail. She even went so far as to fax a copy of the report in to Party headquarters prior to the deadline.
Despite all that, Stilwell received a curt email from Geoff Donald at Party headquarters in Ottawa last night stating: “Section 3b iv of the CPC Nomination Rules and Procedures states that the candidate must provide “an original copy of a current Certificate of Conduct”, while the documentation that you have provided is a photocopy . . . Because we have not received the documentation by 5:00PM local time, the application is not considered complete and according to Section 3d the application will not be considered.”
In an interview with LifeSiteNews.com Stilwell said she wished the Party would have told her upfront that her social conservative past would prevent her from being accepted. “People warned me this would happen” said Stilwell. “I was sure that my 14 years of elected office, my reputation as a hard-working person of integrity would at least give me a chance.”
“It is unbelievable that they would reject my nomination 3 weeks before the nomination meeting. I have talked to MP’s and others in the Party,” she added. “I’ve been out in the community knocking on doors, holding coffee parties, encouraging people to get involved in politics. If they were not going to let me run they should have told me in the beginning.”
Stilwell suggests that the hundreds of new members her team signed up would now be seen as having been taken by the party under false pretences and she is demanding a refund be given to them. “I want the Conservative Party to give my members their money back,” demanded Stilwell. “Every member I signed up paid for heir own memberships because they wanted a chance to vote for me.”
Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition told LifeSiteNews.com that he was “shocked to hear what the Conservative Party” had done. “We hoped and prayed that they’d be more open, unlike the NDP, where candidates could speak up on issues and reveal to voters where they stand.”
Pacheco, who received similar treatment from the Conservatives in 2005, told LifeSiteNews.com, “It only goes to show that the Conservative Party of Canada continues to treat social conservatives like the proverbial whipping boy. This is all very troubling because almost everywhere in the Western world today, Christians and other social conservatives are being pushed into the closet and their role in public life is being discouraged. If Mr. Harper is truly a Christian like he purports to be, then he has to stop allowing this outrageous muzzling of our right to participate in the political process. It’s time to remove the muzzle, Mr. Harper.”
Despite numerous calls, the Conservative Party did not return calls by press time.
To contact the Conservative Party of Canada
To contact Conservative Party Leader Stephen Harper
Telephone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900