He has his work cut out; make himself and the Conservatives more interesting
In 2011 Michael Ignatieff stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. After defeat in the 2015 General Election former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped as leader and later away from politics. Bob Rae took Ignatieff’s place as interim leader for the Liberal Party. Similar to Rona Ambrose who took Harper’s place, Bob Rae did not run for the position of leader for the Liberal Party despite encouragement. Bob Rae put a brake on politics after the race; Rona Ambrose plans to do the same. The Liberal Leadership Race started with 9 candidates; it ended with 6 candidates on the ballot. The Conservative Leadership Race started with 17 candidates. Although it ended with 14 candidates on the ballot, surprising Canadians who perceived Kevin O’Leary as the next leader, he dropped out of the race. His name was on the ballot but he withdraw from the race; at the time it was too late to take his name of the ballot. 13 finalists were on the list
On the 1st ballot presumed leader Maxime Bernier was first. Bernier secured 28.9% of points. On the 3rd ballot O’Leary was knocked off. After the 7th ballot, Bernier stayed at number one rising to 30.51%; 6 candidates had been knocked off of the list. The Conservative Leadership race went right down to the wire. On the 13th/last ballot Andrew Scheer secured 51% of the vote becoming the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada; Maxime Bernier was ahead until the last ballot.
As expected Justin Trudeau clinched the leadership on the first ballot with 80.9% of the points. On the other hand the Conservative Race came to nail biting end.
There was more excitement for the Liberal Leadership race than the Conservative Leadership race. Both had many candidates, drop outs, and votes from across Canada. The two make up the original parties from Confederation – John A. MacDonald’s Progressive Conservatives and Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals.
So why was there more attention for the Liberal race than the Conservative?
Many of the aspiring Liberal leaders were celebrities, well known to Canadians. Young Canadians may not have actually known that Justin Trudeau existed before he entered the race but they recognised the name; Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was responsible for the Patriation of the Constitution in 1982 and the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and immigration reform; whether he’s liked or not Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau is in Canadian history books. When running for leadership Justin Trudeau was connected on Twitter and was reported as handsome.
MP Marc Garneau stepped down from the race but Canadians knew the name. Garneau is the first Canadian to have gone to space but he’s the second most popular Canadian astronaut to Chris Hadfield, former Commander of the International Space Station, Tweeter from space, and the first to perform in an off-Earth concert with fans watching live on Earth.
The Conservative Race had many MPs. They were known to political fanatics but unknown to the average Canadian. Kelly Leitch became known, a celebrity, from her negative media attention. Her Canadian Value test for immigrants was seen by both Conservatives and non-Conservatives as a Donald Trump style policy to weed out immigrants; she was less liked but at the same time known. The only celebrity to enter the race, someone whose name was known before entering, was Kevin O’Leary. His celebrity factor played a strong role in polls showing him as the front-runner. When Kevin O’Leary dropped out he endorsed Bernier and recommended him as the ideal choice to his voters; media captured it and Bernier became a celebrity; his face and name became widely known to Conservatives and Canadians.
Although he is now the official leader of the Conservative Party and opposition Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer is not a celebrity; he’s still unknown to many Canadians. Conservative voters may know his name and face but who he is still a mystery. Scheer secured the leadership with 51% of points on the last ballot, the only ballot Maxime Bernier was second.
It has been reported the 2017 Conservative Leadership Race had the most eligible voters of any political leadership race in Canada. The 2017 Conservative Leadership Race had over 250,000 eligible voters. Kevin O’Leary has been credited with bringing these eligible voters, new people buying a membership to the Conservative Party of Canada.
Compared to the 127,000 eligible Liberals in the 2013 Leadership Race the number of eligible 2017 Conservatives is almost double. The difference: who could vote.
Traditionally the only Canadians allowed to vote in a political party’s leadership are members of the political party. These are Canadians who are either a member of the party (MP/MPP/MLA/MNA) or have bought a membership – given a specified donation and have a card identifying them as a member. Breaking with tradition the Liberals brought attention to their race by opening it to all Canadians; if a voting age Canadian was not a member of another party (did not have a membership with another political party) he could sign up, attend debates, and vote.
Members vs. Supporters
While the Conservative Party brought members the Liberal party brought supporters. Members of a political party are assumed to be loyal to the party paying an annual membership fee. Voters in the Conservative Leadership Race were large; they had a large number of members. On the other hand the Liberal Leadership Race allowed Members and Supporters.
A Supporter is someone who wants to be involved in the political party but doesn’t want to pay the fee. A Supporter is commonly someone who says “I usually vote for the Liberals but I might vote Conservative, NDP, Green or Bloc Quebecois if they campaign on something that’s better”.
Members receive a card that identifies them as an official member; they can attend events such as the annual conference and are included in other discussions like policy conventions and local visits from the leader to members. A Member is commonly someone who says “No matter what happens, even if I know my party is going to lose, I’m going to vote for them.”
Today membership for the NDP costs $0 to $25 annually depending on your province; there’s the option of receiving emails without paying any cost. With the Conservative Party of Canada a single year membership is $15; there’s a discount if you choose a multi-year membership; they’ve also added the option of becoming a no-cost supporter. On July 6, 2016 the Liberal Party took away the membership fee; anyone can become a member for no cost.
The Liberal and Conservative campaigns both had traditional in-person and mail-in voting. The Liberals also had online voting. Together with the chance of joining without paying a fee, being the first Canadian election to offer online voting provided the Liberals attention from a range of audiences across Canada, more popularity and excitement compared to the Conservative Leadership race.
The Conservative and Liberal leadership races may have ended but the NDP race is just beginning, media wise. Until Ontario NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh joined the race some Canadians knew there was a Conservative Leadership Race but didn’t know there was an NDP race. As a well-known MPP in his riding and a “party politician” he’s brought the celebrity factor to the NDP Race. The NDP will include online voting, a chance for voters to cast a ballot from their phone before brushing their teeth. To vote for the NDP leader you still need to be a member, a cost factor. They’re using the Liberals voting system; they’re using the Conservative voter system; they’re short on celebrities.
The Leaders: all will be known on October 22.