Tories stick to Saturday for leadership results despite candidates’ complaints
The Progressive Conservatives have rejected calls for the vote to be delayed by a week. The new leader will be announced March 10 in Markham.
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It’s full steam ahead for the Progressive Conservatives to announce their new leader Saturday despite complaints of voting problems from some candidates.
The Tories have rejected last-minute calls from some quarters for the vote to be delayed by a week, which would brought further embarrassment to a party still reeling from the January Patrick Brown scandal that forced the leadership contest.
“While there were challenges with our mail delivery, and some members were unable to participate fully in this election, the metrics are very strong,” the party’s leadership election organizing committee (LEOC) said late Wednesday night.
“Nearly 70,000 members have verified their membership already and well over 44,000 have already voted. More members will have voted in this leadership than voted in the 2002 Leadership, when the PC Party of Ontario was in government,” the committee, chaired by lawyer Hartley Lefton, noted.
“We are aware of calls from some candidates for an extension to the race. This is, in our view, not only a fundamental change in the rules at a late time in the campaign, but also contrary to our party’s constitution, which provides that in this case the vote must conclude no later than March 9,” it added.
“Accordingly, we confirm that the deadline for verification of memberships is 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 8 and the deadline for voting is noon on Friday, March 9. The new Leader of the PC Party of Ontario will be announced on March 10 in Markham.”
That statement followed written complaints from the campaigns of former Toronto councillor Doug Ford and rookie PC candidate Caroline Mulroney.
“As we close in on the deadline for verifications in the Ontario PC Party leadership vote, we can't help but have serious concerns that we believe need to be addressed immediately,” Ford’s campaign said Wednesday night.
“Team Ford has and is continuing to receive thousands of calls and emails from disenfranchised voters about this issue. Voters are outraged, disillusioned, and confused,” the Ford camp said.
“We cannot say that we are committed to an open and accessible system, one that is powered by the grassroots, and then shut out a huge portion of our membership. Whatever the reasons for this shut out, it is not acceptable,” it said.
“We are therefore calling on the Ontario PC Party and LEOC to extend both the verification and voting periods by one week.”
Representatives of Mulroney and social conservative activist Tanya Granic Allen also expressed concern over voting problems.
The campaign of presumptive front-runner Christine Elliott opposed any delay of the vote and a spokeperson said she was “surprised to see all three of our opponents request an extension beyond the March 10 deadline.”
A senior Tory insider told Torstar News Service the party would be a “laughingstock” if it stalled the constitutionally mandated deadline for the vote.
“This is like deciding in the ninth inning that the game will actually be 11 innings regardless of the score,” said the PC source, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal deliberations.
“It would make the party look foolish,” the insider said, pointing to the June 7 election when the Tories will try to topple Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals.
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