What Patrick Brown's disqualification means for the CPC race
Pierre Poilievre's odds of winning on the 1st ballot just improved
I tempted fate in today’s Weekly Writ when I said the Conservative leadership race had quieted down a little in recent weeks.
So much for that.
Late last night, the Conservative Party’s leadership committee announced that Patrick Brown had been disqualified and removed from the contest. They say it is due to allegations related to financing rules, the sort of thing that runs afoul of Elections Canada.
According to some reports, it is related to a private company allegedly covering salaries paid to Brown’s campaign staff.
Patrick Brown’s campaign denies the allegations and says that the party has engineered this disqualification to ensure a Pierre Poilievre “coronation”. They are consulting their lawyers.
It is a remarkable turn of events that completely upends this Conservative leadership contest. It was already a race that was nasty and ugly, and it is undoubtedly not going to get any better now that one of the front runners has been booted from the contest and, it seems, does not plan on going quietly into that good night.
This is not the first time we’ve seen the Conservative Party discipline or disqualify aspirants for the throne. Brad Trost was fined by the party during the 2017 leadership campaign for allegedly leaking the party membership list. In 2020, Richard Décarie wasn’t approved by the party following the vetting interview and Jim Karahalios (now the Ontario New Blue leader) was disqualified, despite having gathered the requisite signatures and fundraising, for allegations his campaign had made about another campaign’s staffer.
None of those past examples, however, had the impact that Brown’s disqualification will have on this race.
Brown’s ballot impact
Brown’s campaign has claimed to have recruited 150,000 members for the party, a big chunk of the 675,000-ish members that will be eligible to vote. Though metrics related to (early) fundraising, polling and endorsements weren’t particularly rosy for Brown, the growing perception in the race was that Brown was a serious contender, perhaps even the chief competitor to Poilievre.
Certainly the behaviour of Poilievre and his campaign suggested they viewed Brown that way.
Apparently, the ballots have already been printed and some have even been mailed, so Patrick Brown’s name will be on the ballot regardless of his disqualification.
What impact will that have?