Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party is being sued by one of its own members who claims that the 2018 race for party president was “rigged” to keep him out – a claim that’s being supported by a sitting Progressive Conservative MPP.
Jim Karahalios’s lawsuit claims that during last November’s party convention, held at the Toronto Congress Centre in Etobicoke, the election process was manipulated, election rules breached and that ballot boxes were allegedly stuffed in order to elect his competitor, Brain Patterson, as party president.
“Rather than letting the best candidate win through the course of a free, fair and democratic election, the Party pre-selected the candidate it wanted to win for Presidency, Patterson, and took all steps that it could take to covertly facilitate that specific outcome,” the lawsuit reads.
In a statement to CTV News Toronto, party communications director Marcus Mattinson said the party “does not comment on ongoing legal matters.”
The lawsuit claims that while there were 1,230 eligible voters registered to participate in the election, 1,345 were actually cast.
“In other words, well over 300 ballots were counted that had not been cast by eligible voters,” the lawsuit reads.
For the first time those claims are being backed by Belinda Karahalios – a member of Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative caucus and wife of Jim Karahalios.
She told CTV News Toronto she believes “a few unelected individuals” affected the vote for party president.
“My understanding is there were more ballots than there were voters,” Karahalios told CTV News Toronto in an exclusive interview.
“This affects my husband, yes. But it’s not just him, not just one person. It’s democracy as a whole. If you start influencing or start trying to affect any type of voting process ... that’s not what democracy is about.”
Jim Karahalios has long been a thorn in the side of the PC party and was once booted out as a member by former leader Patrick Brown after a public disagreement over Brown’s support of the carbon tax.
When Ford was elected to lead the party in 2018 Karahalios was forgiven and welcomed back into the fold.
Now he’s hoping Ford will step in once again to intervene.
“He’s the most influential person in the PC party, so it’s up to him.”
The premier’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Karahalios is seeking $100,000 in payment from the party.