Conservative party: the rules could restrict the number of candidates

Parti conservateur: les règles pourraient restreindre le nombre de candidats

The new chief to replace Andrew Scheer at the head of the conservative party must be announced on the 27th of June.

January 13, 2020 19h09


Conservative party: the rules could restrict the number of candidates

Stephanie Levitz

The Canadian Press


OTTAWA — The race to the succession of the chief conservative Andrew Scheer is now officially launched, with the publication of rules and timelines that may restrict the number of contenders.

The call for nominations has formally begun on Monday and the dozen of individuals who have already expressed interest – including the former prime minister of Quebec Jean Charest, the former minister Rona Ambrose, and at least three current deputies – should start implementing a real campaign.

Candidates will have three obstacles to overcome in order that their name appears on the ballot.

To be approved as an “authorized claimant”, they have until February 27 to pay the first payment non-refundable of $ 200 000 in registration fees, as well as to collect 1000 signatures of members of the party in 30 constituencies spread in seven provinces or territories.

After this deadline, the candidates will need 1000 additional signatures and will be required to pay a compliance deposit refundable of 100 000 $ in order to have access to the list of members of the party and to have a place in the discussion.

In addition to these requirements, they still have to get 1000 signatures before the 25th of march.

These three steps will increase the requirements against what had been put in place in the previous leadership race, won by Mr. Scheer.

In 2017, the cost was $ 100,000, divided between a compliance deposit refundable and non-refundable. Only 300 signatures of members were necessary, even if they were to also come from 30 districts in seven provinces or territories.

The race was spread out over more than a year. The regulation was published in march 2016, the deadline for registration was February 24, 2017 and the members of the party have elected a new chief on may 27.

This race has been launched and completed over a much shorter period – the new chief should be announced on the 27th of June.

The campaign of 2017 had 14 names on the ballot, which has caused some grumbling as to the impossibility of having political debates of substance. Pressures have been exerted on the organizers of the leadership race this time to see if the rules could be structured in order to restrict the number of candidates.

Two levels of candidates

In most of the leadership races, there are two levels of candidates, highlighted by Jamie Ellerton, a strategist who is the curator of the firm Conaptus.

A first group of candidates seen as having a chance of winning; the second is composed of persons who are seen as seeking to make himself known to other political purposes.

But the rules of this race, including the number of signatures and the different timelines, suggest that the candidates who will run will be those who already have a plan in place, he argued.

“What I think these rules do is exclude the possibility for a candidate totally unserious as Kevin O’leary to dive, to make the headlines for several weeks, and then to withdraw, because the requirements are so great”, he said.

Mr. O’leary, a business tycoon and star of the reality show, he briefly joined the race in 2017, but gave up a few months later after he failed to get enough support in Quebec.

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