CPC Grassroots Candidates Moving Towards Verification Despite Elitist Rules

Written By Wyatt Claypool, Posted on March 11, 2020

First term Member of Parliament for Hastings-Lennox and Addington Derek Sloan just became the third candidate in Conservative leadership race to pass the authorization stage.

Sloan, by being authorized, has compiled at least 2,000 Conservative party members’ signatures, $150,000 in donations with $50,000 paid into the registration fee and $100,000 for the compliance deposit. He will still require another $150,000 and 1,000 signatures in order to become fully verified. 

Jim Karahalios is also on his way to full verification. He has claimed in campaign advertising that he is within $100,000 of being verified with all 3,000 signatures gathered. Presumably Karahalios may not be authorized yet because he hasn’t yet submitted funds into paying the required fees.

It feels quite silly for it to be a major milestone for two of the non-establishment candidates to be making it past the halfway point of donation gathering, and it shows how ridiculous this process has become.

Unless you are a well connected politician who knows hundreds of people who can all donate the maximum $1625 you are stuck running around begging people for small donations.

In the case of Derek Sloan with 15 whole days left until the verification deadline he has to collect $10,000 dollars a day in order to qualify, and he is one of the candidates who seems to be doing the best in terms of donations. 

Sloan seems like he has the momentum to make the goal, but for any candidate who has collected less than him or Karahalios, things are starting to look quite grim. 

Even if you are well on your way to making the $300,000 goal you can very infrequently take time to speak to the media, create official campaign policy, or speak to supporters without the topic naturally having to swing back around to the need for more donations.

In 2017 the rules only required candidates to raise $100,000 and get 300 CPC member’s signatures and they had half a year to do it. By lowering the timeframe to raise money to 10 weeks, tripling the donation goal, and multiplying the signatures goal by 10, there is no way of interpreting the CPC’s new rules as anything but a way of keeping out the grassroots candidates. 

It is a system designed for party elites like Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, people who already have well entrenched campaign teams within the party, and who Premiers and other MPs feel compelled to support, due to their high standing within the Conservative Party, regardless of policy positions.

Regardless of the new Conservative leadership campaign rules that seems calculated to keep out the grassroots candidates, they might be self defeating if candidates like Sloan, Karahalios, or Lewis get verified in spite of the difficulty of raising money. 

Those candidates will become polarized against the establishment favourites and benefit from the underdog effect against O’Toole and MacKay who now look like the party elites proxies.

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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