Allegations of fraud prompt meeting of Ontario PC Party's nomination committee
Allegations of voter fraud and voter irregularities during several Ontario PC nomination races have led to an unscheduled meeting of the party's nomination committee.
The party leader's office would not say what exactly prompted the meeting or how many nomination races were being discussed.
Former Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton says she witnessed voter irregularities during the Ottawa West-Nepean race and wants the results overturned.
"In Ottawa West-Nepean there was clearly fraudulent voting, stuffed ballot boxes and more ballots in the box than people who voted," Lebreton said.
In May 2017, Karma MacGregor won the nomination in that riding over Jeremy Roberts by only 15 votes. LeBreton says a formal appeal was filed, but then-leader Patrick Brown approved the candidates before their appeals could be heard.
"This meeting should be declared null and void," she said. "Re-hold the meeting with a clean membership list and whoever wins we will support."
Tory candidates in three ridings where nominations have been disputed -- Scarborough Centre, Ottawa West-Nepean, and Newmarket Aurora -- released a statement Friday asking for the review to be halted.
"We learned today that there are actions being taken against a number of candidates by certain individuals based on rumours and innuendos," the statement from Thenusha Parani, Karma Macgregor and Charity McGrath said. "What's more, we have not been asked for or provided an opportunity to provide our perspective."
The party has been dogged by controversial nomination battles in ridings across the province, including allegations of vote-stuffing in races near Hamilton and Ottawa. In the riding of Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, police are investigating the PC nomination.
The party eventually hired auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee their nominations contests after complaints began to emerge.
Interim leader Vic Fedeli has said he wants to "root out any rot" in the party and has committed to fixing the party's membership list.
At the Manning Conference in Ottawa, leadership candidate Caroline Mulroney said she will leave the review and decisions to the interim leader.
"I know that there are problems and Vic Fedeli is the right person to be working on that," she said.
Similar sentiments were issued in Timmins today by candidate Christine Elliott.
"I'm confident that by the time we get to selecting the next batch of candidates in the local riding associations we will have a fair process in place," she told reporters in that city.
As for Doug Ford, also a leadership candidate, he told CTV News the last round of nominations had "more dirty tricks" than he's seen in 25 years in politics. He also said he wants to see the questionable races run again.
"It was awful," he said. "We heard all sorts of rumours of ballot stuffing, lights going off during voting. Dirty tricks," he told CTV's Graham Richardson.
The review comes as the party deals with the discovery of a significant discrepancy in its membership numbers. An email recently sent to the Tory caucus and obtained by The Canadian Press showed the party has roughly 67,000 fewer members than the 200,000 claimed by former leader Patrick Brown.
With files from Shawn Jeffords and Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press