Pressure from grassroots forces the CPC to delay leadership race

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on March 28, 2020

After a few weeks of pressure on the Conservative Party of Canada from Conservative MPs, Independent news organizations, and CPC leadership candidates themselves, the Leadership Election Organization Committee (LEOC) has suspended the campaign at least until May 1st. 

Current candidates have been asked to suspend all fundraising and phoning of Conservative members for campaign-related reasons. 

Unfortunately for those candidates who had to drop out of the race due to issues fundraising due to COVID19 concerns, they will not be reinstated to continue working towards the fundraising and signature goals to get onto the ballot.

Delaying the leadership vote for a long time did not seem like a very likely outcome with members of the LEOC actively pushing against the calls for a delay and making excuses in the face of the COVID19 pandemic of why the race is somehow able to continue.

One of the largest scale shows of public opinion levelled at the CPC was from Elect Conservatives, which used its extensive social media presence to launch and circulate a petition to delay the leadership race. 

Not only did Elect Conservatives release a petition, but leadership candidate Derek Sloan’s campaign released a petition of their own and used the CPC email list to circulate it. The results were massive in favour of a delay. 

Erin O’Toole later joined Sloan in supporting a delay to the leadership race, like everyone else citing the COVID19 pandemic as a danger to campaigning as well as the participation of Conservative membership.

What also severely intensified pressure on the CPC was Conservative MPs, who were not themselves candidates, coming forward calling for a delay on the race.
Fort McMurray MP David Yurdiga, who endorsed Peter MacKay for leadership, was one of the first MPs to come and support the movement for a delay in the leadership race. Yurdiga, at the time he came out against the current schedule, told The National Telegraph that “Canadians don’t have time to worry about leadership politics.” among other reasons for a delay.

Peter MacKay himself, on the other hand, had been resisting the delay along with the LEOC up until the decision to delay the race was made. Along with opposing the delay, MacKay had also advocated if the date of voting was to be changed, that it should be made sooner than June 27th.
This stance did not resound to MacKay’s benefit as it made the veteran politician look out of touch to many Conservative members who are preoccupied with concerns over COVID19 to pay attention to a leadership race. 

MacKay’s vocal opposition culminated in a rather awkward interview with CTV’s Evan Soloman, where he seemed not to understand the reasoning behind the support for the leadership race delay.

Although Jim Karahalios is no longer in the CPC leadership race after being disqualified, despite reaching the fundraising and signature goals, this delay also assists his efforts to be reinstated as a candidate

With potentially several extra weeks or months before the vote may take place, Karahalios has needed spare time to gain support on petitions demanding the CPC add him onto the ballot, as well as more time to pursue his court case against the party for disqualifying him without stating any rule he broke

As the race has now entered into a holding pattern, it isn’t clear when health concerns over COVID19 will subside, and the vote will be rescheduled. At the very least, the delay being granted by the LEOC is a victory for the Conservative grassroots.

Wyatt Claypool

Wyatt is a student at Mount Royal University, where he is the president of its Campus Conservative club. In his writing, he focuses on covering provincial and federal politics, firearms regulation, and the energy sector. Wyatt has also previously written for The Post Millennial.

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