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Conservatives delay nomination vote in Toronto-area riding

OTTAWA - The Conservative Party called a timeout on Thursday in a bitter nomination battle in a Toronto-area riding that has seen two rival camps accuse each other of wrongdoing.

A nomination vote set for Saturday in the riding of Oakville North-Burlington was postponed indefinitely so the party can fully review the allegations, said a statement from Cory Hann, the party's director of communications.

"The Conservative Party believes in upholding the integrity of our nomination process, and apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause," the brief statement said.

"The nomination will be rescheduled at a future date after a thorough review has been completed."

The decision was taken after the teams of two of the candidates vying for the nomination each released audio recordings supporting their respective claims of wrongdoing.

One side, that of local chiropractor Natalia Lishchyna, has audio of a research firm it hired conducting a survey with an unidentified Conservative member.

The person says she took out a membership in the party through the campaign of MP Eve Adams, but that "some guy that was calling on Eve's behalf" paid for the membership fee.

Lishchyna's campaign staffers say that's just one of 38 examples they've come across of alleged fraud by Adams' campaign.

Members connected to Adams' team, meanwhile, recorded the survey calls they happened to receive.

They complain that the survey firm did not identify itself as working for Lishchyna, and allege that constitutes a violation of telecommunications rules around political calls.

The Lishchyna campaign argues that the survey was not meant to persuade voters of anything, and therefore falls under the category of legitimate market research.

The volleys are just the latest chapter in what has been a bitter battle between Adams and Lishchyna. Adams currently represents the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, but moved to the Oakville area she wants to represent. Her fiance, Dimitri Soudas, resigned as the party's national director amid allegations he was using his position to further her campaign.

Conservative party brass issued a rebuke of MP Rob Anders earlier this year, saying his nomination campaign in Calgary-Signal Hill had made misleading calls to local members. Anders did not win the nomination.

The so-called robocall scandal, which is still a subject before the courts, revolves around the accusation that voters were receiving misleading calls that purported to be from Elections Canada or an opposing party.

Very few people who complained about the calls had actual recordings of them.

The Fair Elections Act currently before Parliament seeks to address some of the concerns around robocalls, and would set up a registry for companies that are engaged in making political calls.

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