• Party members have gathered at the Toronto Congress Centre for the 2017 leadership convention
  • Leadership candidates will have their final chance to sway party faithful on Friday night at around 7 p.m.
  • Although around 125, 000 members have made their choices via mail-in ballot, Conservatives will still be able to vote on Saturday
  • Some riding associations across the country have set up in-person voting on Saturday, but most party members will be relying on their mail-in ballots or voting at the Toronto convention.
  • The first round of results will be announced around 6 p.m on Saturday. Organizers will keep on announcing run-off results until one candidate has more than 50 per cent support.

Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier speaks during the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Toronto on Wednesday April 26, 2017.

There are two main factors to consider that will impact the voting process: A ranked ballot and equally-weighted ridings.

Each voter will rank the candidates on the ballot: Candidate A is my first choice; B is my second choice; C is my third choice, and so on.

On Saturday, a computer will hold several rounds of balloting. After the first round, the bottom-ranked candidate will be dropped from the ballot, and their second choices redistributed to the remaining candidates for the second round. This will repeat until one candidate has 50 per cent of the vote plus one, and wins. However, unlike old-fashioned conventions, with Candidate G marching across to hall to sit with Candidate R at a pivotal moment, this will all take place in an instant.

If candidate A gets half the first choices in any given riding they get 50 of the 100 points awarded to that riding. If candidate B gets a quarter of the vote, they get 25 points, and so on. First-ballot strength is important but being everyone’s second choice could be equally important.

As well as having a ranked ballot, all ridings are equally weighted.

What does that mean? Well, there are 260,681 Conservatives eligible to vote. You can find 59,631 of them in Alberta, which has 34 ridings. So that’s an average of 1,754 members per riding.

There are only 16,483 Conservative members in Quebec, which has 78 ridings. So 211 members per riding. Each Quebec vote is eight times as important as each Alberta vote.

Ontario has about 44 per cent of the total members, as opposed to 36 per cent of the seats.

Prince Edward Island has only four seats, it also has only 1,088 members, or 272 voters per riding.

Saskatchewan has more than three times as many seats (14) but more than 40 times as many voters (12,956). You can spend a lot of effort racking up a lot of votes in Saskatchewan to little relative effect.

Put it another way: The West and Ontario account for about 90 per cent of the Conservative Party’s members. But a third of the party’s actual vote is found in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

– John Ibbitson

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Alexander ‘flat-footed’ on refugee crisis

Maxime Bernier

Background: Mr. Bernier, a die-hard libertarian and Quebec native, held several cabinet roles in Mr. Harper’s government, including foreign affairs minister, a post he resigned after a scandal over classified files he left at the home of his then-girlfriend, Julie Couillard, who had ties to members of the Hells Angels biker gang.

More reading: Bernier: “I won’t change. I want my platform to be the platform of the Conservative Party of Canada” (for subscribers)

Steven Blaney

Background: An engineer and environmental consultant, Mr. Blaney ran for the Tories in 2006 in Quebec, later becoming president of the Quebec Conservative caucus. In 2011, he was promoted to veterans afairs minister and later public safety minister, implementing the anti-terrorism laws that followed the 2014 attack on Parliament Hill.

Michael Chong

Background: A veteran Progressive Conservative who joined the merged Conservative Party in 2004, Mr. Chong was intergovernmental affairs minister in Stephen Harper’s first cabinet but quit in protest over Mr. Harper’s motion recognizing the Québécois as a nation within Canada. As a backbencher, he championed the Reform Act, a private member’s bill to give caucuses more power to challenge party leaders. An amended version of his bill passed in 2015.

More reading: Why a Tory leadership candidate backs carbon taxes (for subscribers)

Kellie Leitch

Background: A former pediatric surgeon, Ms. Leitch entered federal politics in a 2010 nomination race in the riding of Simcoe-Grey. In cabinet, she held the labour and status of women portfolios. In the 2015 election, she and one of her current leadership rivals, Mr. Alexander, attracted controversy by announcing a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line.

More reading: Kellie Leitch says she has no regrets about Conservative leadership campaign

Pierre Lemieux

Background: After a 20-year military career, Mr. Lemieux entered politics in 2006 as an Ontario Conservative MP. He was parliamentary secretary to Erin O’Toole, one of his current rivals for the Tory leadership, when he was veterans affairs minister.

Deepak Obhrai

Background: Mr. Obhrai entered federal conservative politics with the Reform Party in the 1990s, following its transformations into the Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party in the 2000s. Mr. Obhrai held parliamentary secretary roles for the foreign affairs and international co-operation ministers.

More reading: Why Obhrai thinks he can lead the party back

Erin O’Toole

Background: Mr. O’Toole served in the Canadian Armed Forces for a decade before practicing law and served briefly as veteran affairs minister while the Harper government tried to mend relations with veterans’ groups over cuts to services and benefits. The Ontario MP unsuccessfully ran for interim leader of the party after the 2015 election, and served as opposition critic for public safety.

More reading: For Erin O’Toole, a chance to win by being No. 2

Rick Peterson

Background: Mr. Peterson is the only candidate currently in the race who hasn’t held political office. In 2014, he failed in a bid to become leader of the B.C. Conservative Party. He has deep roots to the Conservative Party, having been an active member since the mid-1980s. Mr. Peterson is fluently bilingual and runs his own business in Vancouver.

Lisa Raitt

Background: Prior to working in politics, Ms. Raitt was an executive at the Toronto Port Authority. When the Tories were in power, she managed multiple cabinet portfolios, including transport, where she became Ottawa’s point person on the deadly Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in 2013. While in the opposition, she served as the party’s finance critic.

More reading:Lisa Raitt on running for leader as husband battles Alzheimer’s

Andrew Saxton

Background: Mr. Saxton represented the riding of North Vancouver for seven years before losing his seat in the 2015 federal election. Prior to being an MP, he was a businessman who worked in global finance. He was parliamentary secretary for multiple cabinet portfolios: the Treasury Board president, minister of Western Economic Diversification and minister of finance.

Andrew Scheer

Background: Mr. Scheer is the youngest leadership candidate but has spent nearly his entire adult life in politics, having served as a Saskatchewan MP since 2004. He has no prior experience in cabinet, but did serve as House Speaker for four years, the youngest person ever to hold that office.

More reading: Why Andrew Scheer could be the next Conservative Party leader

Brad Trost

Background: Mr. Trost, a Saskatchewan native, worked as a geophysicist before being elected to the House in 2004. In opposition, he was the Conservative critic for Canada/U.S. Relations. He is a staunch fiscal and social conservative who is against marriage equality and abortion.

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