Out­come of lead­er­ship race test for Con­ser­va­tive party

Cape Breton Post - - Canada -

When the con­tenders for lead­er­ship of the Con­ser­va­tive party reg­is­tered to run, they swore to up­hold two key pledges likely to be tested in the months fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of the win­ner on Satur­day night.

One, that they ac­cept, agree with and will ad­vance the poli­cies and prin­ci­ples of the party as laid out in its of­fi­cial doc­u­ments.

Two, that if they lose, they won’t speak ill of the win­ner.

At stake isn’t just the $50,000 com­pli­ance de­posit all 13 can­di­dates paid when they joined the race at var­i­ous points over the last 15 months.

It’s get­ting the party in fight­ing shape for the 2019 elec­tion.

“This has been a long lead­er­ship race, but the hard­est work is still ahead,’’ said former Con­ser­va­tive cab­i­net min­is­ter James Moore.

Front-run­ner Maxime Bernier has un­abashedly cam­paigned on a pledge to undo one of the ex­ist­ing poli­cies of the party —sup­port for sup­ply man­age­ment.

Should he win, he said he’ll spend the next year per­suad­ing party mem­bers to change their minds, as will any of the other can­di­dates whose pro­pos­als con­tra­dict the pol­icy hand­book, as that doc­u­ment comes up for re­view at next year’s con­ven­tion.

But the win­ner will also have to get all the former com­peti­tors on­side, mak­ing sure ev­ery­one ac­cepts the re­sults of the race.

Some cam­paigns are al­ready mut­ter­ing about the po­ten­tial for high num­bers of spoiled bal­lots to have an ef­fect and mean­while there’s the out­stand­ing ques­tion of who, ex­actly, was be­hind the 2,729 in­el­i­gi­ble mem­ber­ships found on the rolls.

The party did meet Elec­tions Canada and turned over all their ma­te­ri­als from their re­view, but the Com­mis­sioner of Canada Elec­tions won’t say whether or not there is a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the works.

The mere sug­ges­tion of a prob­lem makes party brass anx­ious, as chief among the ob­jec­tives of this race has been to pre­sent Cana­di­ans with a re­freshed party, one free from the bag­gage of its years in gov­ern­ment that in­cluded run-ins over elec­tion laws and po­lit­i­cal fi­nance.

On Thurs­day, a door fi­nally closed on one of those —the fed­eral ethics com­mis­sioner ruled that then-prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff broke the law when he cut a cheque to re­pay Mike Duffy’s Se­nate ex­penses.

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