Bernier affirms support for Scheer, despite questions around vote
Andrew Scheer, right, is congratulated by Maxime Bernier at the federal Conservative leadership convention in Toronto on May 27, 2017. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Tuesday, June 6, 2017 7:34PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Former Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier is offering his full support to the party's new leader, despite complaints by his supporters about the voting process.
"As I stated on election night: I support our new leader Andrew Scheer. Unconditionally," Bernier wrote on Twitter Tuesday evening.
While nobody has formally complained to the party or on the record in the media, some of Bernier's supporters say the numbers don't add up. While the party says 141,633 ballots were cast in choosing Scheer as the new leader, its Constituent Information Management System (CIMS) database lists only 133,896 members as having voted.
The party says about 4,000 member IDs weren't recorded in the system because they voted in-person the day of the announcement, and were struck off a paper list instead. That leaves about 3,400 more ballots cast than member IDs recorded, which the party says is likely due to human error.
The dispute has left the party fighting publicly over Scheer's win, although those who dismiss the concerns point out nobody has made a complaint on the record, whether formally with the party or in the media.
Scheer said Tuesday he had reviewed the voting process and accepted the results as accurate.
“I’m satisfied that the integrity of the ballots were always maintained, and I’m sure every leadership candidate and their team who gets walked through the process will arrive at the same conclusion,” he told CTV Atlantic.
Earlier Tuesday, celebrity businessman and former candidate Kevin O'Leary said he will advocate as a party member for a recount.
"I would prefer to shine the light of transparency on this issue because it taints the new mandate, it taints the party, it taints the candidates," O'Leary said in an interview with CTVNews.ca.
"It would be far easier given how few votes there actually are to count, to simply recount them. It is not unusual in close political contests," he said.
Ontario MP Erin O'Toole was the first leadership candidate to publicly address the controversy, says he's confident the process was run fairly.
"Based on my team's experience with the leadership election, I am very confident that the process was run fairly," O'Toole said in a statement.
"I stand 100 [per cent] behind our leader Andrew Scheer and want to keep our members focused on the battle that lies ahead; defeating the Liberals in 2019 before they do more damage to our economy, our social fabric and the prosperity and wellbeing of future generations."
O'Leary agreed with O'Toole that he'd rather be talking about defeating the Liberals in 2019, but remains committed to the need for a recount.
"I don't think it's healthy for us not to be able to have total transparency on any process," he said.
The party says its rules don't allow for a recount once the result has been certified by the chief electoral officer and Deloitte, which oversaw the voting process.
"Those results are final and they're not subject to appeal," Dan Nowlan, the chair of the Conservative Party's Leadership election organizing committee, said in an interview with CTV Power Play host Don Martin.
"So there's no recount possible and there's no nothing possible. That's it."