Despite rumblings from some Conservative activists to extend the length of the Conservative leadership race, the long-time party stalwart tasked with overseeing the race says he doesn’t see this happening.
Ian Brodie, head of the Leadership Election Organizing Committee and former chief of staff for prime minister Harper, says he’s confident the party will meet the deadlines set out in the existing rules.
“I was in the @CPC_HQ offices last week, including for the membership deadline in the race,” Brodie tweeted. “I do not see a scenario in which the race could be delayed. Candidates have signed up many, many new members and Party staff are doing extraordinary work to produce a voters’ list.”
“I expect we will meet all the deadlines set out in the #cpcldr rules,” Brodie continued.
Brodie’s comments seem to be a response to concerns sowed by people connected to Jean Charest’s campaign that the party is facing a time crunch that will threaten the legitimacy of the race.
In a podcast interview, former cabinet minister Lisa Raitt, who has endorsed Jean Charest’s leadership bid, said the party was “six to eight weeks” behind in processing memberships. Charest’s campaign co-chair Tasha Kheirridin said the next leader will have “no credibility” if the race “isn’t transparent.”
The Conservatives have not yet released official membership numbers, but a CBC report claims the party estimates it has over 600,000 members.
Only Conservative members can vote in the leadership race. To be eligible to vote, a member had to sign up by June 3, prompting a last minute membership drive by the leadership campaigns.
Pierre Poilievre’s campaign said it sold 311,958 memberships, with over 70,000 people joining the party in the last 48 hours of the eligibility period.
Conservative leadership candidate and Brampton mayor Patrick Brown said his campaign sold over 150,000 memberships before the June 3 cutoff.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest hasn’t released membership figures, but has said his campaign has a clear path to victory given the distribution of his members, noting that the Conservatives use a points system rather than raw vote totals.
Each riding is given 100 points, which are awarded in proportion to the number of votes each candidate receives in each riding, regardless of whether it has 100 members or 1,000 members (with the exception of ridings with fewer than 100 members, who get one point per member). The ballot is also ranked, meaning a candidate needs 50 per cent plus one point to win.
In 2020, Erin O’Toole won on the third ballot after Derek Sloan and Leslyn Lewis were eliminated. In 2017, Andrew Scheer only narrowly edged out Maxime Bernier on the 13th ballot, thanks to down-ballot support from other candidates.
Conservative members will vote by mail, as the party constitution requires. The winner will be announced Sept. 10.