Conservatives seek to shut the door on grumbling over leadership process

first_imgOTTAWA – Newly elected Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer sought Wednesday to put an end to grumbling about how he won the race, devoting a segment of his party’s weekly meeting on Parliament Hill to a lengthy briefing on the vote count.The race’s deputy returning officer walked MPs and senators through the process, spending time focusing on the central complaint in recent days — the difference between the number of people the party said cast ballots and the number in the party’s central membership database.That discrepancy — 7,466 names — has been at the heart of concerns that something was amiss with the process that culminated nearly two weeks ago with Scheer just narrowly edging out Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.Only 7,049 popular votes separated the two in the final ballot.Media reports cited anonymous complaints about whether the process — candidates had to capture a majority of points based on the share of the vote they received in each riding — was flawed. Scheer had 50.95 per cent of the points, Bernier 49.05.The party tried to clear up the issue, taking the rare step of allowing senior party staff to be named and quoted in news stories about the process. Their explanation: volunteers used paper lists to strike out the names of those who voted on May 27, rather than the central electronic list, and mistakes were made when the latter list was updated.The grumbling persisted, so Scheer brought those officials to caucus Wednesday to provide more details.“I think anyone who gets walked through the process comes to the same conclusion that the integrity of the votes have never been questioned,” Scheer said after the meeting.“I think caucus is ready to move on.”Erin O’Toole, who placed third, said while the results of the race weren’t as he had hoped, he has accepted the outcome.“Some of the grumbling voices are people that got over-confident and don’t like losing,” he said. “In politics, you have to be prepared to lose.”Shane Osmond, a Bernier supporter who lives in Toronto, called it patronizing to have concerns shrugged off as sour grapes.Given how close the result was, any concerns should be taken seriously, said Osmond, who led supporters on social media in a group called “Gays for Bernier.”“The (party) needs to have a thorough and transparent investigation into the voting process so that we can move beyond this, support our new leader, and focus on defeating Trudeau in 2019 as a united Conservative party,” he said.“It is also our hope that this will bring improvements to the next leadership voting process for the sake of voters and candidates, whenever that may be.”For his part, Bernier said he feels the same way now as he did on election night — in support of Scheer.“I support our new leader Andrew Scheer,” Bernier posted on Twitter late Tuesday. “Unconditionally.”last_img read more