Retired Conservative MP Dave MacKenzie said he’s supporting a Liberal vying to replace him, following a controversial Conservative nomination process in which his daughter lost, one candidate was disqualified, and two Electoral District Association executive members resigned. 

MacKenzie, who held the riding from 2004 until his retirement earlier this year, said he’s backing local realtor and former educator David Hilderley, who’s seeking the Liberal nomination ahead of the Oxford, Ontario byelection. 

“The way this thing has gone in my riding from my former party, I just find David an easy switch for me,” he told The Globe and Mail on Monday.

True North first reported that the Conservative party disqualified nomination candidate Gerrit Van Dorland, a long-time Conservative activist from Otterville, Ontario.

A statement from pro-life political action group RightNow in March said Van Dorland was targeted for his beliefs.

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

At the time, a Conservative spokesperson told True North that Van Dorland was disqualified for failing to disclose details in his application. The party did not specify what details Van Dorland allegedly failed to disclose.

The Conservative nomination eventually went to Arpan Khanna, who ran as a Conservative candidate in Brampton North in 2019 and served as Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre’s Ontario co-chair in last year’s leadership race. Khanna beat out MacKenzie’s daughter, Deb Tait, and Toronto political strategist Rick Roth.

MacKenzie then accused Poilievre of backing lawyer Arpan Khanna’s candidacy, while two of the riding’s Conservative Electoral District Association executive members quit their posts.

Meanwhile, Roth described Khanna as a “parachute candidate from Brampton” while Khanna accused Roth of “telling lies.”

MacKenzie now tells the Globe he’s concerned that former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer backed Khanna’s nomination.

“Why would Andrew Scheer want to bring a guy in from Brampton?” he said.

“It’s not Stephen Harper’s party or Peter MacKay’s party right now. It just operates differently.”

“I am not knocking Pierre. Pierre’s got some people around him that he might question at some point.”

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


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.