The local Simcoe-Grey Conservative association is, predictably, reacting negatively to the moves from Harper HQ, it looks like there's still some loyalty to Guergis there and there's a bit of a recipe being created for Conservative infighting. There's some push back against what are perceived to be heavy handed tactics being deployed to install the new candidate, Kellie Leitch, described as a Conservative activist, close to Jim Flaherty and Harper former chief of staff, Ian Brodie. Whether the Conservative infighting will be strong enough to overcome the Conservative leaning in the riding is a question but it's never helpful.
Harper's team is busy. Driven no doubt by the concerns of the base, such as those expressed by the Canadian Family Action Coalition, a Conservative supporting Christian group that was quoted in a Hill Times article today (h/t):
The executive director of one of the largest Christian organizations that pins its political goals with the Conservatives admitted the Raffer/Guergis affair may be damaging the party's image.Parachuting a Toronto doctor into the riding may rankle though, if this is indeed the way the Conservatives go. The Liberals could run a strong "vote local" campaign ("blanketing the airwaves with ads and urging voters to "vote local"). There's a compelling emotional appeal to that and clearly it can work.
"That's the one thing that I've probably heard more than anything," said Brian Rushfeldt, executive director of the Canadian Family Action Coalition.