In the Notice for Application to Divisional Court for Judicial Review in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the Trost campaign ask for the non-compliance decision to be quashed and compliance fee returned because it was “procedurally flawed” and “deprived Mr. Trost of basic procedural fairness” and a right to internal appeal. It also maintains the Trost campaign did not share the list with a gun rights group.
The party determined that a “salted list” — that is a membership list if fake names on it to determine if a list is leaked to third parties — from the Trost campaign was used by the National Firearms Association. Campaigns were expected to use the lists only for their leadership campaigns and keep them confidential.
The notice says Conservative Party “officials decided to blame the leak on Mr. Trost and his campaign without investigating other explanations for the Leak.” The notice says that Conservative Party officials also had copies of the Trost list and therefore was an “alternate suspect” and should not have investigated. Furthermore, it says that after the party announced to the media that it had determined the source of the leak and would act on it, LEOC was under pressure to accept those findings. The notice argues “an informed observer would reasonably conclude the Non-Compliance Decision and Inquiry were a sham to justify a decision that had already been reached by CPC officials” and thus “no hope” of the Trost campaign “benefitting from a fair and impartial investigation or decision-making process.”
Trost’s filing with the court says there is no “clear evidence” provided by the party, LEOC or the returning officer that the Trost leadership campaign was the source of the leak considering alternative explanations.
In July, the CBC quoted Trost campaign manager Joseph Ben-Ami: “There’s a frame job going on here and our campaign is being framed … There’s no evidence in support of the allegation that the Brad Trost campaign leaked any information to anyone.”
Trost was endorsed by Campaign Life Coalition, who also fully backed Pierre Lemieux. Trost finished fourth in the 14-person race and Lemieux finished seventh. Trost’s showing was interpreted by the media as a show of strength by social conservatives within the party. Andrew Scheer won on the 13th and final ballot to become the new Conservative leader. Despite his strong showing, Trost was left out of the shadow cabinet along with Kellie Leitch, who finished sixth, and Deepak Obhrai who finished last.
Jeff Gunnarson, vice president of CLC, told The Interim, he is concerned with the party’s treatment of Trost, and wondered “whether a solution was possible that allowed everyone to move on without dividing the party.”
The National Firearms Association gave Trost a B grade, along with Chris Alexander and Pierre Lemieux, behind Erin O’Toole (A), Andrew Scheer (B+) and Kellie Leitch (B+).