On Sunday evening (and late into the night), in what was announced as the largest Canadian political virtual convention ever held, the federal Conservative party selected its new leader, MP for Durham riding in Ontario, Erin O’Toole. It took three ballot sessions to declare O’Toole victorious. Competitor Derek Sloan dropped out after the first ballot, Leslyn Lewis after the second (when she then pledged support for O’Toole), leaving only Peter MacKay and O’Toole for the third round. O’Toole captured 57% of the votes versus MacKay’s 43%. The ballots required party members to rank their choice of the candidates’ slate, first through fourth.
Almost 175,000 ballots were delivered to Ottawa (where the votes were tallied) by the Aug. 23rd deadline. A glitch in some automated letter openers saw nearly 4,000 ballots torn or miss-cut. These required officials to piece them back together and receive approval from scruntineers in attendance as to their validity, one document at a time, leading to a multi-hour delay. The original plans scheduled the first round scores for 7:30 pm with any additional ballot sessions being tallied and publicized by 9:00 pm at the latest to avoid conflict with a NHL hockey playoff game being aired later in the evening. In reality the final winner wasn’t announced until 1:00 am on Monday.
In his acceptance speech, O’Toole stated that “We must continue to point out Liberal failings and corruption, but we must also show Canadians our vision for a stronger, more prosperous and more united Canada. He added that “Canada can and must do better and Conservatives will work hard to earn the trust and confidence of Canadians in the next election.”
In, what some have said was an acknowledgement of the Conservative’s need to broaden its voter support base, the new leader commented that “I believe that whether you are Black, white, brown or from any race or creed, whether you are LGBT or straight, whether you are an Indigenous Canadian or have joined the Canadian family three weeks ago or three generations ago. Whether you’re doing well or barely getting by. Whether you worship on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or not at all … you are an important part of Canada and you have a home in the Conservative Party of Canada.”