Patrick Brown’s leadership campaign is the latest to worry about what it calls “misleading” emails sent to party members by his chief rival.
Brown’s national campaign co-chair John Reynolds sent a letter Thursday to the party’s leadership election organizing committee asking it to investigate emails sent by Pierre Poilievre’s campaign before the month’s deadline. last to sell $15 memberships to supporters.
To vote for the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the party had said supporters had to register as members by June 3.
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Poilievre’s campaign said it alone has sold nearly 312,000 memberships through its website, including some 119,000 in Ontario.
But Reynolds’ letter alleges Brown’s campaign received a “number of complaints” from members who said they bought new memberships after receiving what appeared to be an “official-looking warning” from the team of Poilievre stating that their membership status was incomplete.
The email says it’s from Poilievre’s campaign.
A spokesperson for Poilievre’s team said the email in question was addressed to people who “according to our own records” were not members.
“We would have no advantage in enrolling someone who is already a member,” Anthony Koch wrote. “They would still only be allowed to vote once.”
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Poilievre also asked for party publication numbers for the number of members his team has signed up, which he has so far refused to do.
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Party spokesman Yaroslav Baran confirmed Thursday that Brown’s complaint had been received and would be assessed to see if it warranted an investigation.
In the meantime, he said the main focus at the moment was to validate the memberships sold by the six contenders.
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By comparison, in 2020, when former leader Erin O’Toole was elected in the last Conservative leadership race, the party boasted an eligible voting base of 270,000.
Baran said “there is a small army of people” working to validate memberships that have been sold for anything that would make them non-compliant.
He said the party remained on track to deliver on its promise that a “preliminary voters list” would soon be provided to campaigns. The date for this to happen had been set for July 4th.
As for duplicate memberships, Baran said it was less of a concern because it was easy to identify. If someone bought two memberships, he said, the party would simply count the other sold as another year’s membership.
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The campaign of fellow MP Leslyn Lewis, who finished third in the 2020 leadership race, had previously raised concerns about the possible existence of ‘tens of thousands’ of duplicate memberships and believes the email from Poilievre is a contributing factor.
Another factor is the party’s processing times for membership sales, said Mike Coates, chairman of the leadership campaign for former Quebec premier Jean Charest.
In his own letter to the head of the party leadership election organizing committee, Coates said some who bought a membership bought a duplicate because they did not receive timely confirmation.
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