2020 Conservative leadership race suspended until at least May due to COVID-19 pandemic

The decision by the committee comes after it repeatedly resisted calls over the past few weeks to suspend the race or at least extend some deadlines

The final four Conservative Party leadership candidates: Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis, Erin O’Toole
and Derek Sloan.
Postmedia and wires

March 26, 2020 Brian Platt

OTTAWA — The Conservative Party’s leadership race is going on pause until at least May 1 due to the massive disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The party has cancelled the two debates scheduled to happen in April, as well as the leadership convention scheduled for June 27. The deadline for membership sales has been extended from April 17 to May 15.

The party says it will reassess the situation after May 1 to decide on a new timeline.

The decision by the leadership election organizing committee (LEOC) comes after it repeatedly resisted calls over the past few weeks to suspend the race or at least extend some deadlines.

However, an intense debate had broken out this week among party officials — in particular on the national council, the high-level governing body that appointed the members of LEOC.

LEOC met on Thursday evening and decided to suspend the race. It said it was no longer possible to conduct the race on schedule due to the business lockdowns caused by COVID-19, including in its own party headquarters.

“LEOC will continue to monitor developments and meet regularly to discuss options, and has set May 1, 2020 to return to do a fulsome re-evaluation of the dates and time needed to complete the race under the obligations of the constitution,” it said in a statement on the party’s Twitter account.

“The committee thanks everyone for their patience during this time, as a decision such as this requires many considerations. LEOC wishes all Canadians the best as they take appropriate measures to protect their health and the health of their loved ones during these times.”

Along with pressure from the national council, LEOC had also been asked to delay the race by two of the four candidates who qualified for the final ballot, Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan.

Three candidates who are now out of the race — Marilyn Gladu, Rudy Husny and Rick Peterson — have been calling for the race to be suspended for most of March. The party announced on March 16, however, that no big changes were coming to the deadlines. Gladu and Husny were eliminated on Wednesday for not meeting the final entry deadline, while Peterson had earlier withdrawn his candidacy.

Rudy Husny and Marilyn Gladu wanted the Conservative leadership race to be suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press/File; Craig Robertson/Postmedia/File

However, Peter MacKay had spent Thursday campaigning on social media and in television interviews for the race to be kept on track. He had also earlier called for the timelines to be sped up and a vote held as quickly as possible.

“Elections were held in Canada during World War I, World War II and the Great Depression,” he said in a message to his supporters Thursday morning.

“It’s times of crisis that we need our democracy more than ever. The Conservative Party must proceed with its plans to choose a new leader. This is not a time to show weakness and push the pause button on our democratic process. This is exactly what the Liberal party and others want.”

Leslyn Lewis, the fourth candidate who qualified for the final ballot, also supported keeping the race on schedule.

Story link here: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/conservative-leadership-race-suspended-until-at-least-may-due-to-covid-19-pandemic