Peterson drops out of Conservative leader race as party punts Karahalios

OTTAWA — Ontario conservative activist Jim Karahalios has been kicked out of the Conservative leadership race.

His name was taken off the list of approved candidates late Friday afternoon.

The move comes in response to a complaint lodged against him following a series of emails he sent to supporters lobbing inflammatory attacks against the campaign of one of his rivals.

Karahalios had accused Erin O’Toole’s campaign chair Walied Soliman of advocating for the introduction of Islamic religious law, or Sharia, in Canada.

He had based his assertion on an interview Soliman had given over 13 years go when he discussed Islamic legal rules around finance.

Formal complaints had been lodged with the party, and an internal debate had been taking place for the last week about how they would respond.

Karahalios did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.

Earlier Friday, Alberta businessman Rick Peterson said he’s dropping out because the party won’t extend the deadlines for the fees and signatures required to enter.

He said raising money and collecting signatures has been “severely hampered” at a time when Canadians are being told to avoid in-person contact and when many are facing a financial crunch.

He says the party’s decision flies in the face of common sense, decency and conservative values.

Candidates have until March 25 to pay $300,000 in fees and submit 3,000 signatures — a deadline the party is refusing to extend.

Four candidates have met the threshold: Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole, Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis.

Two others, Rudy Husny and Marilyn Gladu, have also complained about the timelines. Husny said Thursday he was calling off his campaign as well, and Gladu has said she’ll still try to meet the deadline.

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