MONTREAL — The federal Liberals are putting the kibosh on a bid by a Montreal borough mayor to seek the party nomination in a byelection.
Alan DeSousa is hoping to eventually represent the Liberals in the April 3 vote in the riding of Saint-Laurent, which is vacant because of Stephane Dion’s recent departure from politics.
DeSousa, who has been mayor of the borough of Saint-Laurent for more than 15 years, says a party committee sent him a letter dated this past Sunday to tell him he was not eligible to seek the nomination.
“I intend to do everything in my power to make sure my name is on the nomination papers,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
“The prime minister promised an open and transparent process and I want that promise to be kept.”
DeSousa argues it is up to the residents in the Liberal stronghold of Saint-Laurent to choose who they want as their candidate.
He said the letter he received from the party gave no explicit reasons for the omission.
“The Green Light Committee has conducted a careful review of your eligibility to stand as a Qualified Nomination Contestant for the Liberal Party of Canada for by-election in the riding of Saint-Laurent,” committee chair Suh Kim said in the letter, which was obtained by The Canadian Press.
“Unfortunately, based on that evaluation, the Green Light Committee is not recommending you to be a Qualified Nomination Contestant. Your name will therefore not be on the ballot for the nomination.”
The party said in an email it cannot discuss individual cases.
“For confidentiality reasons, the party cannot comment on the details of one file in particular,” said spokeswoman Marjolaine Provost.
“National rules outline the rigorous procedure Canadians expect from a national political party.”
DeSousa was also asked in the interview about a recent TV report in which a citizen accused him of using the borough’s email account to solicit support.
He said he did not have access to the account and that he simply used the bank of contacts he has built up over the years.
If DeSousa ends up in the race, his opponents will include former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister Yolande James and Marwah Rizqy, a tax law professor.
They have both received the go-ahead to run.
DeSousa did not want to say whether he believes the party’s objective is to favour one of those candidacies by rejecting his.
“I will let people decide for themselves about that,” he said. “But I am sure I am one of the strongest candidates and that I have the best chance of winning this nomination.
“I have lived (in the borough) for 44 years, I’ve been an elected official for 31 years and mayor for the past 16 years.”
James acknowledged last week she had been encouraged to seek the Liberal nomination in Saint-Laurent but said she was not receiving any preferential treatment.
The date of the nomination meeting has not been set.
Melanie Marquis, The Canadian Press
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