After hours of delay caused by technical failures when a ballot-opening machine damaged thousands of ballots, former Minister Erin O'Toole has been elected Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
With a record breaking 174,849 ballots received, representing a 65% voter turnout, here's how the voting rounds broke down:
- Round 1: On the first ballot, announced around 1 AM, former Progressive Conservative Party Leader Peter MacKay held a narrow lead over Erin O'Toole, with lawyer Dr. Leslyn Lewis in a strong third place, and controversial candidate MP Derek Sloan coming last.
- Round 2: Sloan was eliminated, with his voters ballots being redistributed to the other candidates based on their second choice. O'Toole pulled into the lead, with MacKay close behind, and Lewis with a strong showing in third.
- Round 3: Finally, after Lewis' elimination, O'Toole finished with 57% of the vote (19,271,74), winning seven provinces, including Quebec and Alberta. MacKay finished with 43% (14,528.26), winning only his native Nova Scotia and neighbouring PEI and New Brunswick.
- For full results, along with provincial breakdowns, please see here.
- With the leader now chosen, O'Toole will take over from outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, effective immediately.
- O'Toole will focus on broadening the party's base to be inclusive of Canadians from all backgrounds, addressing the issues the party has had in recent years in appealing to younger, more diverse Canadians.
- O'Toole has promised a true-blue style of Conservative leadership that includes such policy pronouncements as focusing on environmental conservation instead of a carbon tax, ending corporate welfare to then reduce business taxes, transitioning to natural gas and nuclear power and achieving net zero emissions in the oil and gas sector, and finally, introducing a fiscal plan to bring the country back to balance post-COVID.
- On the balloting issue, the delays in vote counting until well after most Canadians were asleep will be damaging to a Conservative Party that prides itself on its managerial ability, not to mention the loss of clicks, views, and social media interactions that often come with the excitement of election night.
- The real come-from-behind story of this race; however, was Dr. Leslyn Lewis, who started the race with neither name recognition nor a seat in Parliament, and finishes as kingmaker with a base of support that decided the election. Lewis has stated she will look at running for a seat in Parliament, and we can expect to see more of her in the future.
Now, with the possibility of a snap election on the horizon, O'Toole will need to pull the whole party together to capitalize on the unity-building that was so central to this campaign. That means reaching out to his defeated opponents to bring their supporters onside. Time will tell if he can do this in time to run to be Canada's 24th Prime Minister.