Conservative Party rejects three leadership candidates

OTTAWA — Only six candidates will be vying for the leadership of the federal Conservative Party after contest organizers rejected the candidacies of three others who claimed to have met the entry requirements.

The party formalized the list of candidates on Monday morning, confirming that Scott Aitchison, Roman Baber, Patrick Brown, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis and Pierre Poilievre would all be on the ballot.

The six had qualified to race well before Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline, after submitting the $200,000 entry fee, a $100,000 refundable compliance deposit and the signatures of 500 Conservative Party members .

Three other aspiring candidates said they too met that threshold and on Monday demanded answers on why their bids were ultimately rejected.

One told The Star he delivered the funds and signatures in person to party headquarters, but was later told his documents were not withheld.

“The party has so far refused to provide any accounts or data to the Etienne campaign to substantiate its position, a position that appears outrageous,” Joel Etienne, a Toronto attorney, said in an email.

“The Saint-Etienne campaign is in the process of preparing a formal protest to the party and will ask for a reconsideration soon.”

Saskatchewan businessman Joseph Bourgault’s campaign posted a note on social media late Monday afternoon saying it had been told it had not submitted enough money.

“Our team submitted a total of $367,453. We seek clarification,” the statement read on his account.

British Columbia businessman Grant Abraham’s campaign said on Facebook that his team was told on Sunday that his candidacy was ineligible.

“Grant responded to the party with a communication requesting a detailed rationale for its decision,” his campaign wrote.

“As valued supporters of our campaign for truth, transparency and real conversations, we will give you updates as we challenge the decision and seek to learn more.”

Conservative party officials did not return a request for comment on Monday.

Eleven people were in the running to have their names put on the ballot before Friday’s final deadline.

All had passed the first stage on April 19 after submitting $50,000 in fees, along with candidate questionnaires that probed their political and personal histories and opinions.

Two candidates, MP Marc Dalton and former MP Leona Alleslev, failed to raise the full registration fee on Friday.

While the fees total $300,000, the candidates actually had to raise more than that, as the party takes a portion of all donations to help fund the cost of the race.

Etienne was a former party candidate in York Center, but neither Bourgault nor Abraham had a previous presence in federal politics.

Both of their campaigns were backed by the anti-abortion group Campaign Life Coalition, which had urged donors to back them to get them elected.

On social media, CLC’s Jack Fonesca accused the party of “scheming”.

Bourgault was also influential among supporters of the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” a movement that began in opposition to COVID-19 vaccination mandates but spread to anti-government protests across Canada earlier this year.

In addition to his manufacturing business, Bourgault runs a non-profit organization called Canadians for Truth, Freedom and Justice which, among other things, has promoted the use of herbs, supplements and ivermectin, a controversial and unproven pest control, as a cure for COVID. -19.

Abraham, who stood for election in Britain in 2019, sought to build support for his campaign by referring to popular conspiracy theories about a ‘new world order’ and a ‘globalist agenda’ meant to reshape Canada.

Lewis, who was the first of six finalists to stand in the ballot and whose campaign is also backed by the CLC, said the three disqualified candidates should be allowed to run.

“We want a fair race. I am not afraid of a hard fight, and the Conservative Party is not the one who should cancel legitimate candidates,” she wrote Monday afternoon on Twitter.

@CPC_HQ should let them run.

Brown, the Brampton mayor who has framed elements of his campaign around ending the so-called “cancel culture,” also appeared to defend the trio.

“A party that champions free speech should be an open exchange of ideas, not control of access,” he wrote on social media.

The six final nominees are expected in two leadership debates later this month in Edmonton and Laval, and some will also speak at a policy conference in Ottawa later this week.

Candidates have until June 3 to sell memberships to bolster their offers. Party members will vote using a mail-in ballot that will be mailed out later this summer.

A new leader is expected to be announced on September 10.

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