Following a highly publicized nomination race, Arpan Khanna will represent the Conservatives as the candidate for the Conservative stronghold of Oxford in a by-election later this year.

Khanna, who ran as a Conservative candidate in Brampton North in 2019 and served as Poilievre’s Ontario co-chair in last year’s Conservative leadership race, was up against retired Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie’s daughter, Deb Tait, and Toronto political strategist Rick Roth.

Following the Conservative party’s disqualification of pro-life candidate Gerrit Van Dorland and allegations of election meddling, all eyes were on the riding of Oxford to see who Conservative members would pick to be their candidate.

Earlier this month, the Conservatives disqualified Van Dorland – a long-time Conservative activist from Otterville, Ontario. 

According to a statement from pro-life political action group RightNow, Van Dorland was targeted for his beliefs.

“The party gave no reason for Gerrit’s disqualification,” said an email sent by RightNow co-founder Scott Hayward to the organization’s supporters. “The real issue is that Gerrit is pro-life and more than likely to win the nomination.”

A Conservative spokesperson told True North Van Dorland was disqualified for failing to disclose details in his application.

“Although the Conservative party does not typically discuss internal party matters, we are aware of information being circulated regarding the nomination contest in Oxford, Ont. that requires clarification and context,” the spokesperson said. “Gerrit Van Dorland, a nomination applicant in Oxford, was disqualified from standing in a nomination race by the party’s National Candidate Selection Committee (NCSC) due to a failure to comply with the obligation to disclose required information during the candidate application process. The recommendation to disqualify this individual was first made by the local Candidate Nomination Committee.”

The party did not specify what details Van Dorland allegedly did not include in his application.

Following Van Dorland’s disqualification, Khanna and Roth expressed disappointment in the party’s decision. Roth alleged Van Dorland’s removal “sets a dangerous path of ignoring grassroots voices for a preferred parachute candidate,” referring to Khanna. 

On Thursday, the Hill Times reported that a complaint was filed with Elections Canada regarding hundreds of alleged fraudulent members eligible to vote in the nomination race. 

Oxford has 6,000 Conservative members after the cut-off date to vote in the nomination. A source connected to the Khanna campaign revealed that approximately 2,700 votes were cast and Khanna won on the first ballot.

The Oxford by-election must be called by July 29.