More than half of Conservative party members have returned their leadership ballots with one week left before the deadline on Sept. 6.
The party says just over 350,000 ballots have been received from the 678,000 people who are eligible to vote in the contest.
That means voter turnout is currently sitting at around 52 per cent. In the party’s 2020 leadership contest, which was won by Ontario MP Erin O’Toole, around 65 per cent of members voted.
Leadership candidates and their teams have spent the last few weeks of this race with their heads down, working to ensure their supporters cast a vote.
But the voting list is long this year — the membership total is a record for a Canadian political party — so reaching everyone before the deadline is a challenge.
Front-runner Pierre Poilievre, who has hosted nearly 80 large rallies across the country throughout the campaign, held his final meet-and-greet yesterday in Vancouver.
His get-out-the-vote efforts have been aided by some of the 62 members of Parliament backing him, who have hosted events where supporters can cast their mail-in ballots in person.
Many in the party expect Poilievre to winafter his campaign reported selling more than 300,000 memberships.However, the team ofJean Charest, the former Quebec premier and Poilievre’s main rival, said they believe they have the points needed to win a narrow victory.
Charest is hoping to pick up support that would have otherwise gone to Patrick Brown, who was disqualified from the race last month over an allegation he violated the country’s election law.
He’s reached out to organizers who were on Brown’s team, but some in the party believe convincing supporters to show up for Charest will be easier said than done, as they may now decide not to vote at all.
The next Conservative leader will be announced at a convention in Ottawa on Sept. 10.
—Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press