Conservatives present united front after ballot complaints
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer receives a standing ovation in the House of Commons on Monday, May 29, 2017. (Fred Chartrand / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Wednesday, June 7, 2017 1:14PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 7, 2017 6:09PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Conservative MPs and senators are satisfied with the party's explanation for a discrepancy in the number of votes counted in last month's leadership race, newly crowned leader Andrew Scheer said Wednesday.
"We had a very thorough presentation today from the party, from our deputy returning officer who managed the process," Scheer said following the party's weekly caucus meeting.
"Caucus is satisfied. As I said yesterday, I think anyone who gets walked through the process comes to the same conclusion that the integrity of the votes have never been questioned, and I think caucus is ready to move on."
Scheer was elected to lead the party with 50.95 per cent of the vote, overtaking Quebec MP Maxime Bernier only on the 13th and last round of balloting. Some of Bernier's supporters complained the numbers didn't add up when they compared the number of ballots cast -- 141,633 -- to the number of members recorded as having voted -- 133,896.
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.
Scheer noted none of the concerns have been laid out on the record, even within the party, referring to them as unnamed sources whose complaints have proven "not bear any facts."
Former leadership candidates said on their way into the meeting that they aren't hearing any concerns about the vote counting process.
"No one in caucus is complaining about the leadership race at all," Ontario MP Erin O'Toole said.
"We're all united behind Andrew.... My team has looked at the process very carefully. It was a very fair race."
O'Toole admitted some members outside of caucus were raising concerns about the results.
"Some of the people outside, including a few former MPs, they were so confident [Bernier would win] I think they're embarassed with how they were conducting themselves in the last weeks of the campaign," he said.
Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost chalked up the problems to technical issues, and said he hasn't heard anything from his constituents about the matter.
"I don't think there was any real or substantive issues or problems," he said.
"There's very little talk about it. I think the issue is pretty much over now."
Debbie Jodoin, a scrutineer from Bernier's campaign, said the concerns are overblown, and called the voting process professional and smooth.
"I believe it's up to the party to answer those questions. Obviously us scrutineers don't know where [the extra ballots] come from."
Given her experience with the ballot counting, though, Jodoin said, she saw "nothing at all nefarious. It was all above board."