Conservative Leadership New Membership Number Shell Game can Backfire VIEW FROM THE HILL by Keith Beardsley

JUNE 13, 2022 – Here we go again, teams of partisans backing various candidates shouting out their membership numbers in the Conservative Leadership race. While we all know this is a fool’s game, those partisans buried in their bunkers think this is important and in effect are shouting out “look at me, aren’t we great”.

The realty is that Poilievre’s claim of 312,000 new members and Browns 150,000. (Charest won’t give his numbers, maybe that is experience playing out here) mean diddly squat when the votes are counted. As Chantal Hebert pointed out in the last contest 100,000 or about 40% of the membership didn’t bother to vote in 2020.

Historically with ranked ballots, wins on the first ballot are rare. That is Poilievre’s quandary. Beat up your opponents with numbers that you claim are accurate and maybe someone else will give up.  Did that influence Brown’s stupid comment about not running if Poilievre wins?

Plus, the more you brag about how great your numbers are, the more you encourage other candidates to have quiet discussions about who their supporters can look at in 2nd, 3rd, 4th place etc.

Even without any behind the scenes games, party members are watching for every comment from the contenders. One misstep and you can lose thousands of potential votes. People initially attracted to you at an event will be constantly reevaluating everything you say. One mistake and they can shrug and say screw you I am not voting, or they can say I like another candidate better now.

Shouting out membership numbers is a foolish partisan game. The only number that counts is the number on voting day.

I hope all the candidates have top notch scrutineers on site watching every vote counted. We don’t need someone claiming some invisible force caused them to lose the leadership election.


Keith is a former political staffer with over 50 years of active involvement in Canadian politics. He is a former Deputy Chief of Staff to a Prime Minister for Issues Management and he was a senior political advisor involved with political research, Question Period, political attack teams and election war rooms for over 20 years. A well-known political pundit, Keith has appeared many times on Canadian political panels.

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