Conservative leadership race long game crucial as deadlines approach: expert

By CityNews Staff

We’re entering a key stage in the federal Conservative leadership race that will see the field of candidates slimmed down and the race tighten up.

So far, out of a dozen declared candidates, only three have met all requirements to have their names on the ballot: Pierre Poilievre, Jean Charest, and Leslyn Lewis.

Tuesday marks the deadline for candidates to submit their $50,000 deposit. In about a week and a half, candidates then have to submit the other $250,000, along with all the necessary paperwork.

There are several other approved candidates who have made the initial $50,000 payment as well. According to the party website, Patrick Brown, Roman Baber, Leona Alleslev, and Scott Atchison are among this group, though MP Marc Dalton says in a tweet he is also an officially approved candidate.

Lori Williams, who teaches political science at Mount Royal University, tells CityNews that will shorten the list ahead of the two official debates in May and the membership cutoff on June 3 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

She says a lot is riding on this campaign for the Conservatives.

“It’s not just about winning the final race, it’s also about winning the direction of the future of the party, and there are different perspectives,” she explained.

Williams notes candidates like Charest and Brown represent more centrist and progressive sides, while Poilievre and Lewis swing to the right.

While she believes the upcoming deadlines will squeeze out some candidates, Williams says some long shots may make it through.

“They know that they probably don’t have a shot at the top spot but they do want to have a say in terms of where this party goes, and there really is a battle.”

A new leader won’t be named until Sept. 10. With months still left to go, Williams says the candidates’ long game will be crucial if they want to secure the top job.

“Does it go more to the right sort of flank of the party or does it go to the more progressive side?”

Total campaign expenses are limited to $7,000,000.

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