Who are the frontrunners of the Conservative leadership race?

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Answered by: Scott, An Expert in the Canadian Elections Category
How does the Conservative Party leader defeat the ‘Cult of Personality’ that surrounds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? That is the question on the minds of many on the right. As we enter the last month of the Conservative leadership race, this is the very thing at the heart of the debates. This is the final stretch which has been a newsworthy and sometimes heated leadership rate which has seen three leaders emerge within the Conservative leadership race.

Kevin O’Leary, the fiery and often newsworthy Billionaire who has seen his popularity skyrocket since the election of Donald Trump. Maxime Bernier, the career politician that held a Minister position within the Harper government, and is a bilingual Francophone that appeals to central Canada. Finally, the infamous Kellie Leitch who is an often quoted parliamentarian who wants harder vetting of refugees to Canada and a focus on Canadian values for immigration. However, there are another eleven candidates who unless they intervene are going to be in tough in this race.

To understand why it will be hard to unseat a frontrunner in this race, we are going to dive into the actual vote by the members of the Conservative party and how the ballot works.

The Conservative Party of Canada elects it leader via a ranked ballot. This means that party members are able to fill out a single ballot with up to 10 names ordered in rank. The issue for those candidates outside the top three is that the second, third and other choices are divided equally among six to seven candidates. This means that the three leaders are going to be practically impossible to catch, but dynamics of the members could change closer to the vote.

As well, the Conservative Party institutes a weighted count for each riding. In this calculation, each riding is worth 100 points, no matter the size or the number of votes. Thus, a riding with 50 members is equal to a riding with 3000 members. This is to encourage a better overall vote, rather than one that is focused on the main population centres in the West. However, the issue with this system is that is hard to predict, and although we have three front runners, the other eleven have no real idea where they sit among the national caucus.

Now that does this mean. Well simply put, this race is still open. Many Conservative voters are not sure who they will vote for and have flip-flopped a number of times over the course of the leadership race. O’Leary represents a possibility of a leader who will be able to face down Trudeau, but he is not viewed as a great successor to Stephen Harper. Maxime Bernier struggles with recognition in the West and had a rough time as a minister in Harper's cabinet. Finally, Kellie Leitch represents the far right of the Conservative party and has been an often polarising figure, especially in regards to her focus on Canadian values. There is still a month left, and at this point, this leadership race is open, but with three leaders vying for the spotlight, it is anyone's race.

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