Three candidates pen letter urging Tory leadership delay
A man is silhouetted walking past a Conservative Party logo before the opening of the Party's national convention in Halifax, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
OTTAWA -- Three Conservative leadership hopefuls have co-signed a letter to the party’s election organizing committee pleading for a delay to the race as the COVID-19 crisis escalates.
Marilyn Gladu, Rudy Husny, and Derek Sloan released the letter on Tuesday expressing their "dismay" with the committee in failing to adjust the timeline of the leadership contest amid calls from contenders to do so.
"The [Leadership Election Organizing Committee]’s lack of an acceptable response to individual candidates has therefore necessitated this unified request," reads the letter.
"We feel strongly that the political and national security environment has shifted so radically since the launch of the campaign that the original dates and requirements are not only unachievable, but inappropriate and inconsiderate of Canadians who are faced with family health concerns and economic uncertainty."
Erin O’Toole, considered one of the two front-runners in the race along with Peter MacKay, circulated a video on Facebook on Sunday expressing his frustrations with the planning process and suggesting all attention and resources be focused on supporting communities as opposed to campaigning.
To date, only MacKay and Leslyn Lewis haven’t come out asking for a delay to the June 27 vote. MacKay went a step further in an email pushed out Monday to campaign supporters, calling on the race to be expedited due to the crisis.
"Our party needs to elect a permanent leader now, not later," said MacKay. "For the sake of the country, effective checks and balances on government, support for good public policy and healthy debate of important decisions, the race should be shortened, not lengthened."
He suggested moving up the date to become a voting party member as well as the June 27 vote.
"We need a strong and united Conservative Party performing its role as an engaged opposition. We need to suggest improvements to the Liberal’s emergency plans. Not for partisan gain, but for national advantage," he said.
Co-chair of the Conservatives' leadership race organizing committee Lisa Raitt told CTVNews.ca on Monday that she and her fellow co-chair Dan Nowlan "talk every day" about the spread of the virus and its broader impact but remained adamant that “our timelines are still our timelines.”
She said the committee will continue to monitor the situation and adapt accordingly, including if it becomes physically impossible to undergo an election given the constitutional requirement to distribute postal ballots.
Gladu, Husny, and Sloan would like to see a leadership announcement at the party’s fall policy convention, a subsequent adjustment to the deadline to sign up as a member, and a slashing of membership fees by half "in light of the restraints this pandemic has had on fundraising."
Remaining "Approved Applicants" – Gladu and Husny – have until March 25 to put forward the full registration fee of $200,000, a $100,000 compliance deposit, and 3,000 signatures to have their names secured on the ballot.