Top News

EDITORIAL: Pay to play in federal Conservative leadership race

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Andrew Scheer spoke to the editorial board of The Vancouver Sun and The Province on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019.
The rules have been put in place for the leadership convention to replace Andrew Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. — Postmedia file photo

It will be interesting to see who the players end up being.

Or maybe there’s someone already in mind, because it’s pretty hard to fit this particular bill unless you’re already a well-known Conservative politician.

A week ago, the federal Conservatives and their Leadership Election Organizing Committee set the ground rules for the upcoming leadership convention to replace Andrew Scheer at the helm.

And the rules are, well, challenging.

Contenders will have to pay the party a $200,000 non-refundable registration fee, and put up a $100,000 compliance deposit. Much of that money will have to be raised from individual donations, and it all has to be in place and in the party’s hands by March 25th.

Candidates will also have to find 3,000 “signatures of endorsement” from party members — with the first 1,000 of those “residing in at least 30 different electoral districts across at least seven provinces and/or territories.”

So, unless you’ve already got some substantial organization in place or set to launch, you’re going to have a very, very busy next few weeks — just 72 days were left on Monday, even fewer now. The timeline is even tighter, because supporters have to have been in the party for at least 21 days before they can sign up support for a candidate — and the signatures of the first round of 1,000 supporters has to be in the party’s hands by Feb. 27.

Contenders will have to pay the party a $200,000 non-refundable registration fee, and put up a $100,000 compliance deposit. Much of that money will have to be raised from individual donations, and it all has to be in place and in the party’s hands by March 25th.

Peter MacKay introduces Andrew Scheer as he campaigns for  in Nova Scotia on October 17, 2019.
Peter MacKay introduces Andrew Scheer as he campaigns for in Nova Scotia on October 17, 2019.

That is the way the party wants it. As one of the co-chairs of the leadership committee described it, the campaign is supposed to be something like a test run of an election.

“(It’s) a process designed to test the organizational abilities of our next leader,” Dan Nowlan said. “It’s not only your ability to fundraise, but more importantly your ability to inspire Canadians to join our party, and to do so under tight timelines similar to the pressures of an election.”

Oh, and there’s a healthy leadership expense cap of $5 million, so if you’re going to enter the race, you’d better hope you can keep those fundraising taps open right up to the campaign’s end and the vote on June 27.

It gives well-known players — like Peter MacKay, who joined the fray on Wednesday — a distinct advantage, both in raising cash and in getting the necessary signatures from across the country. Overall though, it almost certainly means that the pool of candidates will be much smaller than the 17 candidates who started in the last leadership campaign, or the 14 who were left when the ballots were set.

Sometimes, rules are put in place to open the field to as many people as possible. Sometimes, a particular combination of rules knocks people out more than it welcomes them in. One contender, businessman Bryan Brulotte, has withdrawn already, citing the rules.

Chances are, the new leader will be a Tory you already know.

RELATED: 'I'm in': Peter MacKay announces his entry into Conservative leadership race

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories