Approximately 675K eligible to vote in Conservative leadership race: party
The Conservative Party of Canada says approximately 675,000 members will be eligible to vote in this year’s leadership race.
Party representatives told reporters Thursday the historic number reflects the success of each campaign’s outreach efforts.
“We've had six credible candidates out there, each with a slightly different message to Canadians, but taken together, it's resonated in a way that has produced this extraordinary mobilization,” said Ian Brodie, chair of the Leadership Election Organizing Committee.
In February, before the June 3 membership sign-up deadline was set, there were about 113,000 active members nationally – excluding those whose memberships were set to expire by that date.
The preliminary 675,000 tally has been scrubbed of non-compliance sales – transactions not in line with leadership rules – and duplicate memberships.
“In the frenzy of a leadership race, it's normal to draw in people who don't know all the ins and outs of party finance rules,” Brodie said.
Among those who registered over the course of the last several months, 95 per cent purchased their memberships online.
The party is releasing the list to each individual campaign Thursday. Candidates and their teams have until Monday at midnight to challenge any names they feel have been listed “improperly.”
By that same deadline, they can also request to have a name added if they believe an individual has been missed.
“Our chief returning officer Don Nightingale has the authority to make decisions about challenges. His decisions can then be appealed to our dispute resolution appeals committee. Once all of these challenges have been disposed of, the chief returning officer then promulgates the final voters list,” said Brodie.
The party doesn’t usually release preliminary membership numbers, but did so this time given the notable surge.
The most recent high was recorded during the party merger in 2004, which combined several leadership contests to reach 282,000 memberships.
Ballot packages will be mailed out in batches over the next several weeks, the party said, and must be returned by Sept. 6. A new leader will be named Sept. 10.
During the 2020 leadership race, results were significantly delayed due to thousands of ballots being damaged upon opening.
The automated envelope opening machines were slicing both the envelope and some ballots, requiring a fresh ballot to be re-marked with the identical data in order for it to be properly scanned and tabulated.
Yaroslav Baran, who handles media communications for the current leadership contest, told CTVNews.ca on Thursday they’ve made processing changes to avoid a similar issue.
“Given the volumes we are dealing with, the party has really increased the number of people processing every stage. There is a small army of people working on this, and that small army will be repurposed to ballot validation once we are in that stage,” said Baran in an emailed statement.
CANDIDATES WEIGH IN
Jean Charest’s campaign said the membership number is “great news” for the party and that they are “very confident” they have a motivated base.
“We will continue to persuade party membership by offering real ideas and solutions that will make us competitive in the next federal election,” said Director of Communications, Michelle Coates Mather in a statement.
Jamie Ellerton, campaign manager for Scott Aitchison, said 675,000 Canadians have “stepped up” to help the party “strive for a better Canada.”
“Scott Aitchison will launch his national Hope and Respect Tour next month and continue to work to build a Conservative Party that can deliver the results and good government that Justin Trudeau is incapable or unwilling to provide,” a statement reads.
CTV News reached out to all campaigns for comment but at the time of publication, had only heard from the above.
With files from CTV News' Rachel Aiello