BRANDON -- Two thumbs down for his rivals meant a thumbs-up for Larry Maguire's candidacy for the Conservative nomination in the upcoming Brandon-Souris federal byelection.
A Conservative party representative said nomination applications for Chris Kennedy and Len Isleifson were rejected Saturday, leaving Maguire, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Arthur-Virden, to be the acclaimed Tory candidate for the byelection, which is expected this fall.
"As of five o'clock Ottawa time on Wednesday, there was only one set of documents," D'Arcy Barker, nomination committee member, told the Brandon Sun.
"Once we reviewed the documents of (Isleifson and Kennedy), we determined that not all the criteria were met."
'I'm going to be totally honest with you: As far as I'm concerned, there were no issues with my application'
A Conservative byelection campaign committee held a meeting Friday to interview Maguire and recommended to the national nomination committee he be accepted as the candidate.
Isleifson, a Brandon city councillor and the city's deputy mayor, insisted he and his campaign team followed the party's rules and took exception to Barker's comments.
"I'm going to be totally honest with you: As far as I'm concerned, there were no issues with my application," he said Sunday morning. "My campaign team followed everything D'Arcy said to the T, and I'm dealing with this internally right now."
Kennedy, the former executive assistant for former Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed, who resigned Aug. 31, could not be reached for comment.
On Sept. 11, the party's application deadline date, Kennedy appeared to be ready for the campaign trail, according to a post he made on Twitter. "This will be one of the most memorable months of my life. Thank you to friends, family and everyone in Brandon-Souris for the support."
With Maguire on the Conservative ticket, three of the four vacant ridings across the country have acclaimed Tory candidates, erasing the need for any nomination meetings. A Conservative nominee has yet to be named in the Quebec riding of Bourassa.
Some pundits are suggesting the acclamations could lead to an early byelection call, perhaps as early as today.
Barker doesn't see it that way, however.
"We don't know that," Barker said. "I don't think we are. I still envision Nov. 30, the last possible day, just because of Bourassa."
If Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes the byelection call this week, election day would be in late October.
Once a byelection is called, Maguire will have to give up his seat in the Manitoba legislature, leaving both the Arthur-Virden and Morris constituencies vacant.
"It's always a surprise when you're expecting a nomination meeting," Maguire said. "I'm very proud and looking forward to being able to be the Conservative candidate in the upcoming byelection in Brandon-Souris."
Maguire, who was first elected to the legislature in 1999, sold about 1,500 party memberships in preparation for a nomination battle.
Boissevain resident Frank Godon and former media executive Rolf Dinsdale are vying for the Liberal nomination in Brandon-Souris. No nomination meeting date has been set.
Labour council president Cory Szczepanski and Teamster John Bouch© are running to represent the NDP. The party's nomination will be decided Oct. 17, and it is accepting applications until Oct. 7.
The Brandon-Souris constituency is a Conservative stronghold. Tweed, who had represented the riding in the House of Commons since 2004, was re-elected in the 2011 federal election with 22,386 votes, or 63.7 per cent of the vote. Bouch© was second with 8,845 votes.
-- Brandon Sun