Scheer calls for party unity as ballot problems delay leadership resultsSocial Sharing
Machine is ripping ballots as scrutineers tabulate about 175,000 voting cards
· CBC News · Posted: Aug 23, 2020 4:33 PM ET | Last Updated: 4 minutes ago
A malfunction in a machine to open the ballot envelopes for the Conservative Party leadership has caused a delay of about 2.5 hours for tonight's event.
Former Conservative deputy leader and leadership campaign co-chair Lisa Raitt said the ballots, which were mailed in in a sealed envelope inside another envelope, are being opened automatically.
"What's been happening is the machine is ripping or cutting some of these ballots," she said.
When a ballot has been damaged, it is shown on a screen to scrutineers from all camps who agree on the result, so there is no risk of the integrity being compromised, Raitt said.
Scrutineers have been tabulating results since the early morning. Nearly 175,000 ballots were cast
in a mail-in system out of about 270,000 eligible members — the highest number of votes in the party's history.
The official program was set to begin at 6 p.m. ET with results from the first ballot expected to be announced after 7 p.m. ET. It is now underway. According to the latest update from leadership campaign co-chair Dan Nowlan, there will be a "pause" before announcing the results of the first ballot.
"I can guarantee you we will have a leader tonight. It's just a matter of time," he said.
Nowlan said a "few thousand" ballots were damaged. Some needed to be resealed and some needed to be manually remarked on a new ballot, he said.
If no candidate wins on the first ballot, it will go to a second round, and a third one if necessary, based on a ranked ballot system.
Conservative insiders told CBC that the envelopes were smaller than the last race, contributing to the tearing issue. The electric envelope opener is partially or totally ripping some ballots, requiring volunteers to tape the cards back before they were reviewed by scrutineers and fed into the counting machines.
Party in 'great shape': Scheer
Party members honoured outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in a video montage tribute.
In a farewell speech, Scheer urged party members to stand united, to reach out to new supporters and to challenge "leftist" figures. He took aim at big government, mainstream media "bias" and "establishment elites."
"In times like these, it is even more important for every single Conservative to stay united and do everything we can to work together to spread our message of hope," he said.
"It doesn't matter what kind of Conservative you are. Our party needs all of you and we need you to go out and find more people who share our beliefs. Please stay involved. Be bold. Think. Challenge the mainstream media. Don't take the left-wing media narrative as fact."
Scheer said Canadians should not be afraid to "challenge leftist profs or public figures."
The challenge ahead is to find new ways to connect with people and attract new supporters, he said.
"Millions of Canadians share our Conservative values, they just don't all know it yet," Scheer said.
On his way into the Ottawa site where the leadership event is taking place, outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said the party is in a strong position with good public support and more MPs than before the last election.
"Nothing's guaranteed, but the party's in great shape," he said.
A snap election is possible for the fall, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament until Sept. 23. A new session will begin with a throne speech and a confidence vote on the government's agenda.
Raitt called the participation in the mail-in leadership voting "fantastic" given the unconventional nature of this race. The traditional town halls, rallies and other events were mostly cancelled due to physical distancing and other public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Raitt said she is eager to hear the successful candidate speak about unifying the party and taking on the Liberals.
"I want to hear about their vision and I want to hear what kinds of things they're going to bring to the table in terms of taking on the Trudeau government, holding them to account and how we're going to build to an election, whenever it is," she told CBC News.
Conservatives are choosing a new leader after an unprecedented race that unfolded during a global pandemic.
There are four candidates in the race to replace Andrew Scheer:
Lawyer Leslyn Lewis is a political newcomer. Her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica when she was five. She has practised law for nearly 20 years and has multiple degrees, including a master's degree in environmental studies and a PhD from Osgoode Hall law school. A social conservative, she would become the first Black woman to lead a Canadian national political party. She has said she decided to run to promote party unity
and national unity, and wants the Conservative Party to be a "big-tent party" where people are free to hold divergent beliefs.
MacKay is a lawyer and former Conservative cabinet minister in Stephen Harper's government. He led the Progressive Conservative Party when it merged with the Canadian Alliance to form what is now the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. In Harper's cabinet, he held several top portfolios, including defence, foreign affairs and justice. During the campaign, MacKay said he would take "bold action"
to get Canada's economy back on track as it recovers from the global pandemic.
O'Toole served as minister of veterans affairs under Harper, and currently serves as the party's foreign affairs critic. He finished third in the last Conservative leadership race in 2017. After 12 years serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, O'Toole earned his law degree and worked as a corporate lawyer. He has said his focus will be to create jobs
and revive Canada's economy if elected leader.
Sloan is an Ontario MP who attended law school at Queen's University after owning and operating several small businesses. The social conservative has denounced what he calls the erosion of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience in Canada, and the "politically correct culture." He has said he would rescind the carbon tax
and gun ban and pull Canada out of World Health Organization.