Outcome of leadership race test for Conservative party
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.