Patrick Brown to remain on Conservative leadership ballots despite disqualification

Despite being disqualified by the Conservative Party of Canada from becoming its next leader, ousted candidate Patrick Brown's name will still appear on the ballot.

In an interview on CTV News Channel, Conservative Party President Rob Batherson said they "simply don't have the time to do a reprint,” of hundreds of thousands of ballots and still meet the party’s set deadline for announcing a new leader on Sept. 10.

Last week, the party announced approximately 675,000 members will be eligible to vote in this year’s leadership race, a historic number far exceeding past leadership races.

While the final membership verification process is still underway, according to the party's leadership contest spokesperson Yaroslav Baran, the first batch of mail-in ballots with all six names on it have already been sent out to Conservative supporters who had memberships pre-dating the leadership race process.

The party is set to continue mailing out ballot packages in batches over the next several weeks, with the requirement that all ballots be returned to the party by Sept. 6.

The party had an April 29 deadline for candidates to submit the required fees and membership signatures in order to make it on to the ballot as a verified candidate. This timing was a factor in their print deadlines for the ballots.

Questions over whether Brown would still be on the ballot came after the Conservative Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) announced late Tuesday night it had decided to disqualify Brown, citing “serious allegations of wrongdoing” that they were referring to federal elections authorities.

In an interview with CTV News’ Evan Solomon on Wednesday, Brown sought to fight back against what he called "phantom" allegations, claiming his campaign "did nothing wrong." Brown also indicated he was assessing his options to challenge being removed from the race. However, Batherson told CTV News that the party’s rules “do not provide for appealing a disqualification decision.”

This isn't the first time in recent years that the party has ran a leadership election featuring a candidate's name on the ballot that was no longer in the running.

In 2017, then-leadership hopeful Kevin O'Leary withdrew from the race after the ballots were printed.

"So the ballots will go out—as they did with Kevin O'Leary's name on it in 2017—and with a preferential ballot, there will be second and third choices. That will be applied once a candidate drops off the ballot," said Batherson on Wednesday.

Despite this considerable shakeup in the race, Batherson said the party has no plans to delay the process in any way, and all current timelines will stand, including naming the winner at an event in Ottawa on Sept. 10.

As for what Brown still appearing on the ballot may mean when it comes to how Conservative party members decide to fill out their ranked ballot, Conservative strategist and president of Texture Communications Melanie Paradis said in an interview on CTV News Channel that it’ll be something to watch. Brown had previously said his campaign had signed up approximately 150,000 members.

“It's going to be very interesting to see how this shakes out. Where do those voters go? The people that he recruited, do they go anywhere? Or are they going to drop off? In which case, that would completely change the math on the points in each riding,” Paradis said.

“It's a really complicated algorithm. It's not a very straightforward one-member-one vote, kind of set of rules. We have it weighted by riding, and that makes things very difficult to predict and how this could impact the race.”

With files from CTV News' Sarah Turnbull, Mike Le Couteur, and Evan Solomon