In a final fundraising pitch to voters, Conservative leadership front-runner Maxime Bernier is warning members he’ll keep a list of those who supported him during the race.
The note from Mr. Bernier came just hours before the new leader is announced and after a call for unity from many of the candidates once the race is over.
“When the dust settles, my team is going to give me a list of everyone who was with me from day one – the people who supported and donated to my campaign,” said the e-mailed note, shared on social media.
“As Conservative Party leader, I’m going to keep that list with me. I want to remember each and every person who stood by me in this leadership race.
“Today is your last chance to get your name on that list.”
The note concludes by asking supporters to chip in $1 to “be a part of this campaign forever.”
Mr. Bernier is one of 13 candidates vying for leadership of the federal Conservative Party. Conservative members will have ranked their choices on a preferential ballot, and the results are expected to be announced early Saturday evening at the party’s leadership event in Toronto. The party was reporting 132,000 mail-in ballots had been received as of last week, although some members were still able to vote in person on Saturday.
Mr. Bernier’s campaign believes he will receive 30-per-cent support on the first ballot. Former Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer and Ontario MP Erin O’Toole are also considered contenders in the race, which has been difficult to predict due to the number of ballots and the preferential voting system. All ridings across the country are given equal weight in the race, wherein each riding is worth 100 points. The first person who scores 16,901 points wins the race.
The party has said about four per cent of mail-in ballots were missing key information, such as a signed declaration card or identification, and would not be counted unless the member went to one of 14 in-person polling stations on Saturday to resubmit the information.
Supporters of Mr. Scheer and Mr. O’Toole said they would back Mr. Bernier if he wins but hope some of his more extreme policies, such as ending supply management, would be tempered by members at the party’s policy convention next year.
“The person who’s going to win in the federal election is the person who is able to meet the middle ground with everyone at this building right now,” said Dan Lisk, a volunteer for Mr. Scheer’s campaign.
But those who support Mr. Bernier said if he wins, the membership is already sending a strong signal that they embrace his libertarian principles.
“I think what he’ll focus on from day one is rallying support for his policies among the membership,” said Jess Morgan, who was operating a Bernier booth at the Toronto Congress Centre, where the leadership event is being held.
In final speeches on Friday night, fellow candidates called for party unity ahead of the winner being announced.
“Come Monday, every single Conservative in Canada will need to ask ourselves the very same question: ‘What is more important to me, the last campaign or the next one?’ ” Lisa Raitt told the crowd.
Ms. Raitt said she will back whoever wins and expects all the candidates to do the same. “I ask all of my supporters to do likewise,” she said.