No plans to change Tory leadership timeline despite COVID-19 pandemic: Raitt
Former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt attends a Conservative caucus retreat on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
OTTAWA -- The co-chair of the organizing committee for the Conservative Party’s leadership race says despite mounting calls from candidates to postpone the contest, the plan now is to stay the course.
Former deputy leader for the party Lisa Raitt told CTVNews.ca that she and fellow co-chair Dan Nowlan "talk every day" about the COVID-19 situation, its impact economically, and its potential effect on the party’s race to elect a new head.
"We've been monitoring developments around COVID-19 continuously, constantly," said Raitt.
"We are continuously looking at it and we hear what people are saying in terms of the various candidates coming forward and indicating their concerns but our timelines are still our timelines."
A number of candidates have come out publicly raising concerns about the public health crisis. The latest to do so is front-runner and sitting MP Erin O’Toole, who circulated a video on Facebook Sunday taking issue with the timelines.
"I’m asking the leadership committee of the Conservative Party of Canada to delay the Conservative leadership contest to ensure that all time and resources of our Conservative caucus and our grassroots members can be focused on helping our constituents and the needs of our communities in the fight against COVID-19," said O’Toole.
Raitt said it will come down to whether they can physically carry out a mail-in ballot election. The party’s constitution mandates that every member has the option of a postal ballot.
"We’ve got to be sensitive. For some reason if Canada Post indicates there’s not going to be a chance of us hitting our timelines, then we have to figure out what to do next," said Raitt.
"We’ve also got to be cognizant of the concerns that candidates have with respect to making sure that focus is on family and health and I get that to."
She said as much as she’s hearing concerns about delaying the leadership contest, she’s hearing just as many calls for it to speed up.
"I have been asked both questions: 'Will we delay?' and the second question is, 'Can you do it earlier?'" she said.
"I think a lot of Conservatives just want to have certainty as to where we’re going and get it done."
All leadership hopefuls have until March 25 to have their name officially marked on the ballot. To do so, they must have raised $200,000 – with a $100,000 compliance deposit – and acquired 3,000 signatures. As of March 23, O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis, and Derek Sloan have reached this checkpoint.