Results of the Conservative leadership race have been delayed by several hours because the machine used to open ballot envelopes damaged several thousand voting cards.
The technical glitch left four candidates vying for the party’s top job waiting in limbo.
Former Conservative deputy leader and leadership campaign co-chair Lisa Raitt said the ballots, which were mailed in a sealed envelope inside another envelope, are being opened automatically.
“What’s been happening is the machine is ripping or cutting some of these ballots,” she said.
Up to 4,000 ballots that were damaged had to be either taped back together or manually remarked on a new ballot. Scrutineers from all camps view the ballot and agree on the result, so there is no risk of the integrity being compromised, Raitt said.
Scrutineers have been tabulating results since the early morning. Nearly 175,000 ballots were cast in a mail-in system out of about 270,000 eligible members — the highest number of votes in the party’s history.
The official program was set to begin at 6 p.m. ET with results from the first ballot expected to be announced after 7 p.m. ET.
The first round of results is now expected at 11:45 p.m. ET.
“I can guarantee you we will have a leader tonight. It’s just a matter of time,” said leadership campaign co-chair Dan Nowlan.
If no candidate wins on the first ballot, it will go to a second round, and a third one if necessary, based on a ranked ballot system.
The envelopes were smaller than the last race, contributing to the tearing issue. The electric envelope opener is partially or totally ripping some ballots, requiring volunteers to tape the cards back before they were reviewed by scrutineers and fed into the counting machines.
Kory Teneycke, who served as director of communications for former prime minister Stephen Harper, said the technical glitches could damage the brand of a party that prides itself on managerial competence.
“It’s an embarrassing lost opportunity to get a clear, clean message out and to profile whoever the next leader is going to be,” he told the CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton.
Party in ‘great shape’: Scheer
Party members honoured outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer in a video montage tribute.
In a farewell speech, Scheer urged party members to stand united, to reach out to new supporters and to challenge “leftist” figures. He took aim at big government, mainstream media “bias” and “establishment elites.”
WATCH / Andrew Scheer delivers farewell speech:
“In times like these, it is even more important for every single Conservative to stay united and do everything we can to work together to spread our message of hope,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of Conservative you are. Our party needs all of you and we need you to go out and find more people who share our beliefs. Please stay involved. Be bold. Think. Challenge the mainstream media. Don’t take the left-wing media narrative as fact.”
Scheer said Canadians should not be afraid to “challenge leftist profs or public figures.”
The challenge ahead is to find new ways to connect with people and attract new supporters, he said.
“Millions of Canadians share our Conservative values, they just don’t all know it yet,” Scheer said.
On his way into the Ottawa site where the leadership event is taking place, Scheer said the party is in a strong position with good public support and more MPs than before the last election.
“Nothing’s guaranteed, but the party’s in great shape,” he said.
WATCH / How the Conservative leadership ballots are counted:
A snap election is possible for the fall, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament until Sept. 23. A new session will begin with a throne speech and a confidence vote on the government’s agenda.
Memorial University political science professor Alex Marland said the new leader must foster a united public front.
“Every leadership contest sows internal divisions that require repair,” he said.
Marland said the new leader would be wise to prioritize cultivating caucus buy-in for staying on message in public forums by engaging caucus members in policy development, reaching out individually to MPs and seeking advice from former party leaders.
“Many people think that the main work of the leader of the official opposition is to take on the prime minister, and ready the Conservatives to score points against the Liberals on given issues. The truth is much less glamorous,” he said. “The main immediate work is to build internal cohesion in private so that the caucus and the party can move forward as a united team in public.”
Conservatives are choosing a new leader after an unprecedented race that unfolded during a global pandemic. The traditional town halls, rallies and other events were mostly cancelled due to physical distancing and other public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
There are four candidates in the race to replace Andrew Scheer:
Lawyer Leslyn Lewis is a political newcomer. Her family immigrated to Canada from Jamaica when she was five. She has practised law for nearly 20 years and has multiple degrees, including a master’s degree in environmental studies and a PhD from Osgoode Hall law school. A social conservative, she would become the first Black woman to lead a Canadian national political party. She has said she decided to run to promote party unity and national unity, and wants the Conservative Party to be a “big-tent party” where people are free to hold divergent beliefs.
MacKay is a lawyer and former Conservative cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government. He led the Progressive Conservative Party when it merged with the Canadian Alliance to form what is now the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. In Harper’s cabinet, he held several top portfolios, including defence, foreign affairs and justice. During the campaign, MacKay said he would take “bold action” to get Canada’s economy back on track as it recovers from the global pandemic.
O’Toole served as minister of veterans affairs under Harper, and currently serves as the party’s foreign affairs critic. He finished third in the last Conservative leadership race in 2017. After 12 years serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, O’Toole earned his law degree and worked as a corporate lawyer. He has said his focus will be to create jobs and revive Canada’s economy if elected leader.
Sloan is an Ontario MP who attended law school at Queen’s University after owning and operating several small businesses. The social conservative has denounced what he calls the erosion of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience in Canada, and the “politically correct culture.” He has said he would rescind the carbon tax and gun ban and pull Canada out of World Health Organization.
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How RBG's death could radicalize American politics – POLITICO
“It means that we are going to war,” one influential Washington Democrat texted tonight when asked what the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg means. “They do this in the lame duck and I think Americans will rebel.”
The passion is understandable. Ginsburg was the most important and iconic Supreme Court Justice to liberals since Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the court. She was the Left’s Antonin Scalia. Replacing her with an ideological conservative — creating a 6-3 majority on the Court for the right — would have enormous policy consequences, and not just on abortion, but on civil rights, gun laws, regulation and many other issues.
Just a few years ago, when the situation was reversed and Scalia died during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mitch McConnell denied a Senate vote to Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Ginsburg has been ill for years and Democrats have been dreading the prospect of losing her before the 2020 election is settled.
Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Mitch McConnell made it clear Democrats fears were warranted. As McConnell had previously signaled publicly, he released a statement declaring, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
There’s some uncertainty about whether McConnell can cobble a majority of his 53 Republicans together to confirm a Ginsburg replacement. But his swift decision Friday night to reverse his 2016 position is likely to be met with two major reactions from Democrats, one short- and one long-term.
In the short term, the loss of the beloved Ginsburg, combined with McConnell’s hypocrisy, and the likelihood of the court shifting to the right, will enrage Democrats, both in the Senate and out in the country. In the Senate, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer will be under enormous pressure to respond to McConnell’s reversal with aggressive tactics.
“The question will be Chuck’s fortitude,” a Democratic strategist said. “He could shut down the Senate. A government spending bill is due in a couple weeks.”
There is a fierce debate about whether a Supreme Court battle motivates liberals or conservatives more. One conservative who supports Biden argued that dynamic favors the Democrats.
“When I heard that Scalia died I was fit to be tied because at that point we were looking at a conservative icon being replaced by Hillary Clinton,” he said. “It was like seeing your life flash before your eyes. It was terrifying. Now the Democrats are experiencing that. It is going to light the liberals on fire.”
Other Republicans argued that Trump already has the support of all the conservatives who back the president because of his court appointments. A fight over the Ginsburg replacement does little to add new supporters. Additionally, Trump’s political weakness this year is among college educated suburban voters, a constituency that is turned off by the idea of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade.
But in the long-term, McConnell’s decision could have more far-ranging consequences.
“The winner of the election should nominate someone in January,” said John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “Anything else is a gross abuse of the Constitution and democratic principles.”
Since the Garland imbroglio there has been a bubbling debate on the left over how much to tinker with the Senate and the Supreme Court to redress what Democrats see as anti-majoritarian moves by McConnell and Republicans. The debate has pitted institutionalists against procedural radicals. McConnell will embolden the procedural radicals. Democrats are likely to become more united around several reforms that have divided them: ending the legislative filibuster, pushing through statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and modifying the Supreme Court to include more justices.
Not everything in politics hyped by the media is as big a deal as it seems. But RBG’s death is one of those cases where it may be even more consequential than reported. It will certainly alter the makeup of the Supreme Court, but it could also alter the course of a presidential election, transform the Senate, and turbocharge the politics of procedural radicalism.
Ginsburg’s death could ignite a political firestorm – The Globe and Mail
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became a folk hero to the left for her staunch defence of gender equality and civil liberties, died Friday evening. Her death threatens to ignite a political firestorm if President Donald Trump tries to replace her with a conservative jurist less than seven weeks before an election whose outcome might be determined by the court. Such a move would solidify right wing control with a six to three majority.
Ms. Ginsburg, 87, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer surrounded by family at her Washington home, the Supreme Court said.
The President reacted with surprise when informed of her death shortly after finishing a rally in Minnesota. He did not respond to questions on whether he will seek to fill her seat before the Nov. 3 vote.
“She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that. You’re telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say?” Mr. Trump told reporters. “She was an amazing woman.”
Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican majority leader, signalled that an appointment is coming. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he said in a statement. Under the process for appointing Supreme Court justices, the Senate, currently under Republican control, must confirm or reject the President’s choice. The Democratic-run House of Representatives does not get a say.
Mr. McConnell’s position is an about-face from 2016, when he refused to allow a confirmation vote on Merrick Garland, then-president Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. This held open an empty seat until after Mr. Trump took office and appointed conservative Neil Gorsuch to fill it. Mr. Trump later appointed Brett Kavanaugh, giving the political right control of the court for the first time since the 1930s.
In a statement dictated this week to her granddaughter Clara Spera, National Public Radio reported, Ms. Ginsburg called for Mr. Trump not to appoint another justice before his term expires. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ms. Ginsburg’s statement read.
If Mr. Trump makes an appointment, he will almost certainly face a Democratic revolt in Congress and protests from liberal voters in an already deeply divided country. The President has released a list of people he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court, including senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton.
The court faces a series of crucial cases in the coming months, including an attempt by Texas and other Republican states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama’s signature health care law, and several efforts by conservative states to impose more restrictions on abortion.
The country is currently riven with legal battles over the rules for conducting the election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There are more than 50 election-related lawsuits across the country, mostly concerning the scope of mail-in voting, with Democrats favouring easier access to the ballot and Republicans seeking to restrict it.
This raises the possibility that, in the event of a close result, the Supreme Court could have to decide which ballots would be counted in crucial swing states, determining the winner of the White House.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Mr. McConnell to follow his own precedent.
“There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he told reporters in Delaware. “This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position the U.S. Senate must take today. The election is only 46 days off.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday repeated, word for word, Mr. McConnell’s 2016 statement. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he tweeted.
Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Ms. Ginsburg worked as a law professor and advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union before president Jimmy Carter made her a federal judge in 1980. President Bill Clinton elevated her to the Supreme Court in 1993.
She authored important decisions in United States v. Virginia, which struck down the Virginia Military Institute’s policy of refusing to admit women; Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, which expanded the ability of citizens to sue industrial polluters; and Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which allowed states to appoint non-partisan commissions to draw electoral maps in a bid to end gerrymandering.
Ms. Ginsburg, however, was just as well known for her dissents. These included Bush v. Gore, as well as cases on gender pay discrimination, abortion access and the Voting Rights Act.
She fought four previous bouts with cancer, but repeatedly insisted on remaining on the bench.
Her ardent liberalism and strong writing style gave her an unusually high profile for a jurist. Supporters nicknamed her “the Notorious RBG,” murals of her adorn walls around Washington and one public-service campaign implored the city’s residents to wear masks to protect Ms. Ginsburg from catching the novel coronavirus. At the news of her death, hundreds of mourners gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Friday night.
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