Tory leadership candidate Glover calls for vote count delay
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2021 (342 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Frustrated by reports all eligible party members haven’t been able to register a vote, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Shelly Glover is calling for a 30-day postponement.
On Thursday night, Glover said her campaign had sold close to 10,000 memberships and “thousands” of those eligible ballots were still outstanding in the lead-up to Friday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
She said her campaign has repeatedly asked the party to delay Saturday’s count until all members who are eligible can submit a ballot.
The former Conservative MP painted the situation as “David versus Goliath,” with her team up against the well-financed campaign machine of leadership rival Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson.
Such a delay would also make sure rural Manitobans are not disenfranchised, a former Tory cabinet minister said earlier in the day.
“It’s unsalvageable unless they put a pause on this or extend by 30 days the deadline to cast a ballot,” Len Derkach said in an interview from Russell, 340 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
The 76-year-old farmer — who was an MLA from 1986 to 2011 and held education and rural development portfolios in premier Gary Filmon’s cabinet — said he knew of at least a dozen party members in his area who had not or had just received their ballots.
They arrived too late to fill out and return by mail on time to PC headquarters in Winnipeg, and it’s too far to deliver the ballots in person, he said.
“Both candidates will suffer from a flawed process,” said Derkach, who wouldn’t say which candidate he supports to be the party’s next leader and appointed Manitoba’s next premier.
Party members in his area were told ballot collection sites were being set up at rural locations, but the closest one to his community was in Dauphin, 147 km from Russell. It was only open for a limited time during business hours, which meant some people were unable to get away from work to make the trip, he said.
“I feel for rural Manitobans,” he said. “The time is too short. They’re going to feel disenfranchised.”
The PC party has not said how many members received late ballots or were still waiting to receive one. On Wednesday, a spokesman said 25,000 ballots had been distributed and ballot pick-up sites were being offered but did not specify when or where.
The party did not respond to Free Press questions Thursday about the ballot pick-up locations or whether it was considering delaying the counting of ballots.
Félix Mathieu, a political scientist at the University of Winnipeg, said the party will face questions over the legitimacy of its leadership race, whether it delays the vote or not.
“This creates a catch-22 situation. If they don’t address it, the very political legitimacy of the predecessor will be attenuated, because the loser will be able to say, ‘Some of our supporters did not have the opportunity to vote,'” he said.
“If they do postpone the election and they don’t know until two weeks (later) who is going to be the next premier, this will give good ammunition to the (NDP) to say, ‘Look, they’re not able to organize an internal democratic vote, so how can we trust them to lead the province?'”
— with files from Dylan Robertson
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
Updated on Thursday, October 28, 2021 8:15 PM CDT: Re-tops story with Glover quotes and adds photo.