Patrick Brown’s leadership campaign is the latest to raise concerns about what she calls “misleading” emails sent to party members by his main rival.
Brown’s national campaign co-chairman John Reynolds on Thursday sent a letter to the organizing committee for the party’s leadership election asking it to investigate emails sent by Pierre Poilivere’s campaign before last month’s deadline to sell supporters a $15 membership.
To vote for the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the party said supporters must register as members by June 3 at the latest.
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Poialivre’s campaign stated that almost 312,000 memberships were sold through its website alone, including about 119,000 in Ontario.
But Reynolds’ letter claims that Brown’s campaign has received a “series of complaints” from members who said they purchased the new membership after receiving an “official warning” from the Poilivre team that their membership status was incomplete.
The letter states that it belongs to the Poillivre campaign.
A spokesperson for the Poialivre team said the email in question was sent to people who, “according to our own records”, were not members.
“We would not get any benefits if we registered a person who is already a member,” wrote Anthony Koch. “They will only be able to vote once anyway.”
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Poilivre has also asked for details on how many of his team members have signed up, but has so far refused to do so.
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Party spokesman Yaroslav Baran confirmed on Thursday that Brown’s complaint had been received and would be looked into to see if it warranted an investigation.
At the same time, he said, the current focus is on verifying the memberships sold by the six candidates running the race.
The Conservatives are bracing for a possible voter base of over 600,000, which would be a record for the party.
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By comparison, in 2020, when former leader Erin O’Toole was elected in the final Conservative leadership race, the party had a voting power of 270,000.
Baran said a “small army of people” are working to validate the membership, which has been sold for anything that would make it non-compliant.
He said the party is continuing to deliver on its promise that a “preliminary voter list” will soon be made available to campaigners. The date that this will happen has been set for July 4th.
When it comes to duplicate memberships, Baran said it’s not that important because it’s easy to identify. If someone bought two memberships, the party would simply count the additional membership sold as another year of membership, he said.
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The campaign of fellow MP Leslyn Lewis, who came third in the 2020 leadership race, had previously raised concerns about the possible existence of “tens of thousands” of duplicate memberships and believed an email from Poilivere was one factor.
Another factor is delays in the processing of party dues, said Mike Coates, campaign chairman for former Quebec premier Jean Chareste.
In his own letter to the head of the organizing committee for the party’s leadership election, Coates said that some who bought memberships bought a duplicate because they did not receive confirmation in a timely manner.
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