Liberals gear up to take on former star Jody Wilson-Raybould in Vancouver riding

OTTAWA — The Liberals now have a candidate in the British Columbia riding of Vancouver Granville, where their biggest rival will be someone they once called their own.

Taleeb Noormohamed, a 42-year-old tech entrepreneur, has been acclaimed as the Liberal vying to unseat Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former justice minister now seeking re-election as an Independent candidate.

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Wilson-Raybould, who won the seat for the Liberals as a star candidate with about 44 per cent of the vote in 2015, rocked the Trudeau government earlier this year with allegations that she had been improperly pressured to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

The controversy, which saw her resign from cabinet and ousted from the Liberal caucus, sent the party into a tailspin, from which its fortunes have not fully recovered.

Trudeau has maintained that no one did anything wrong in exploring a deferred prosecution agreement, as allowed by law, for the Montreal-based engineering firm.

Noormohamed says he wants to focus his campaign on local issues such as housing, transit and climate change, which he says he is hearing about a lot more than SNC-Lavalin.

"I think that most people are focused on the future," he says.

The New Democrats, who placed second with about 27 per cent of the vote in 2015, chose climate activist Yvonne Hanson as their candidate. Zach Segal, a former political staffer in Ottawa, is running for the Conservatives.

The Green candidate is Louise Boutin, a realtor, and Naomi Chocyk, a one-time constituency staffer to Wilson-Raybould, is running for the People's Party of Canada.

Noormohamed, who saw some of his campaign signs defaced when he ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in North Vancouver in 2011, says he also wants to talk about the importance of guarding against racism.

"I think people here are very concerned that we make sure that we, all of us who are going to be engaging in the debate and the dialogue, do not turn our backs on the whole idea of pluralism and the incredible value that diversity brings to this country," said Noormohamed, whose parents immigrated from East Africa in the 1970s.

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