Although the PC leadership race is not strictly a Cobourg issue, it is of interest to Cobourg citizens, so I’ll try to bring everyone up to date. During the campaign, local PC candidate David Piccini supported Christine Elliott and said that a strong majority of PC members in the Riding also supported her. As the votes from Party membership were being counted last night, it emerged that there was a problem: the result was scheduled to be announced around 3:00pm but by 7:30 pm, everyone at the Convention was sent home with no result being announced. The rumour on the floor was that Doug Ford had won. At around 10:00pm, Doug Ford was declared the winner because “the conclusion of the electoral officer was that the identified issue would not statistically lead to a change in the outcome.”
So what was the issue? First one has to understand the voting process:
- It’s online only – voters were first verified with a Canada Post mail to their registered address – that allowed registration online which then resulted in actual voting instructions being sent by email. As a result, there were 64,053 votes out of approx. 130,000 members.
- It was preferential – that is, ranked ballots, so that if your preferred candidate did not win, your vote would be transferred to your next choice. In the initial total vote count, Christine Elliott was first, then Rob Ford, then Caroline Mulroney, then Tanya Granic Allen.
- It was riding-centric; that is, each riding had up to 100 points to allocate based on how their members voted. This meant that ridings had an equal say and strong PC ridings with (e.g.) 1000 members would not outweigh those with fewer (e.g. 100). If Riding membership is less than 100, then there are as many points as members. With 124 ridings, that means there would be up to 12,400 points available.
So knowing the riding for each voter is important in determining the winner.
After it was announced that Rob Ford was the winner, Christine Elliott issued the following statement:
This evening our campaign was made aware of serious irregularities with respect to this leadership race.
What we do know is:
1. Christine Elliott has won the popular vote;
2. Christine Elliott has won the majority of ridings;
3. Of the approximately 12,000 points that are included in the final calculations, there are fewer than 150 points difference between the two candidates;
Most importantly, thousands of members have been assigned to incorrect ridings; for example, Mount Hope, inside of Hamilton, had its members assigned to Chatham-Kent, several hundred kilometres away.
Our scrutineers identified entire towns voting in the wrong riding. In a race this close, largely determined by geography, someone needs to stand up for these members.
I will stand up for these members and plan to investigate the extent of this discrepancy.
This morning, Northumberland Peterborough South PC candidate David Piccini issued a statement congratulating Doug on his victory and that he looks “forward to working with Doug as he leads our united party into the upcoming election”.
Christine has not yet conceded so the Party is in fact not yet “united”. However, the other two candidates have conceded.
Some members have even called Doug Ford, “Trump north” albeit “Trump light”.
A comment by Tom Blackwell at the National Post is probably a good summary of how the electorate view Doug:
Assuming it stands, Ford’s win likely signals a move to the right for the Ontario Tories. He reached out to fiscal and social conservatives during the campaign, promising to rewrite a controversial sex-education curriculum, and appearing open to exploring restrictions on abortion for underage girls.
Stay tuned to Cobourg News blog for updates – this development makes the coming election even more interesting.
Update Around 9:00pm March 11
Christine Elliott issued a new statement that included:
After completing my review, I am confident in the results.
I extend my congratulations to Doug Ford on a hard-fought campaign.
I have been a proud Progressive Conservative for over 25 years and my commitment remains steadfast.
As I have been saying every day during this campaign, Ontario needs us.
That is why I entered this race.
Ontario needs a Progressive Conservative government to finally defeat Kathleen Wynne.
I look forward to running as a candidate on the team that will form that government on June 7th.
There were reports that she met with Doug during the day. That means we still have Doug Ford as leader of the PCs and potential Premier, the leader election process still was a fiasco and still chose the wrong candidate in the minds of many.