Doug Ford calls for Ontario PC Party leadership voting to be extended, use of paper ballots

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WATCH ABOVE: Ontario PC leadership candidate Doug Ford called for the party to extend time for members to vote and on Monday, said he'd like to see the election be done using paper ballots – Mar 5, 2018

Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate Doug Ford is calling on the party to extend voting by a week and for the ability for members to vote by paper ballot.

“As of right now, close to 100,000 people have not received their PIN number — that’s staggering,” Ford told The Andrew Lawton Show on Global News Radio 980 CFPL Monday afternoon.

“I’m calling on the party to make sure that they step up to the plate, and I’m calling the other candidates for them to step up to the plate, and let’s go to the paper ballot for those who haven’t been able to vote.”

READ MORE: Deadline extended to sign up to vote in Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race

After his radio appearance, Ford said at a news conference he would like to see in-person voting sessions in all provincial ridings. He also said he wants candidates to ask party officials “to extend this vote for another week” so all members to vote.

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“We shouldn’t be rushing this, and I don’t know why we’re rushing this process,” Ford said.

“Everywhere I’m going, everywhere, the No. 1 issue [members] are facing is, ‘I’m going to be left out of this process.'”

READ MORE: Online voting begins for new Ontario Progressive Conservative leader

Hartley Lefton, chair of the party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC), told Global News on Monday that he hasn’t “received any communication on this point from the Ford Campaign.” He later released a statement saying the party has extended the voting deadline.

“While this tight timeline inevitably led to some challenges, the results as of today are extremely encouraging. Over 50,000 members have now verified their membership and over 20,000 have already cast a ballot,” Lefton said in a statement released Monday evening.

“Some members have been receiving their verification PINs later than expected, so we extended the deadline for verification to March 7 at 8 p.m. We also extended the voting deadline to March 9 at noon to ensure that all of our members have the chance to cast a ballot.”

READ MORE: Thousands of Ontario PC members may not be able to register in time for leadership vote

On Saturday, the party also announced it was extending the voter registration deadline for the second time in one week. Party members originally had to register to cast their online ballots by March 2, but the party extended that deadline to March 5 before ultimately setting it at noon on March 7.

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In a statement released Monday afternoon, Christine Elliott‘s campaign team said it’s looking toward the previously-announced date when the results will be revealed.

“We are surprised by the assertions of Mr. Ford. His representatives at LEOC have sat silently in our meetings for days, never bringing up such issues,” the statement said.

“Our work continues and we look forward to seeing the results on March 10.”

READ MORE: Ontario PC Party leadership candidates face off in final televised debate

Caroline Mulroney said in a statement to Global News that her campaign will reassess the situation later this week.

“If it appears on Wednesday that many members are not able to vote — the priority must be to ensure members are allowed to vote,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, in an email obtained by Global News that was sent out on Monday and entitled “The Secret Deal,” Ford claimed there was some sort of deal between Christine Elliott and Patrick Brown.

“We’re starting to find out what it is. To let Patrick Brown keep his seat, and to support a carbon tax,” the email read.

“Christine might think I’m being mean. I’m just making sure folks know before they vote. This is the Christine they’re going to get.”

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MPP Todd Smith, co-chair of the Elliott campaign, held a phone conference with reporters on Monday. He called Ford’s accusation “desperate” and described him as “erratic and out of control.”

“There are no secret deals,” Smith said.

The nasty tone of the attack follows a tense exchange between Elliott and Ford at the final leadership debate in Ottawa on Wednesday. Ford, who strongly supported Elliott in the last Ontario PC Party leadership race, accused her of taking a patronage job from Kathleen Wynne.

READ MORE: Doug Ford, Christine Elliott neck and neck in Ontario PC leadership race, poll finds

“I don’t have anything to apologize to you for Doug,” Elliott said during the debate as she defended her position as Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman, a job she applied for and received after resigning from politics in 2015.

However, Smith said Ford apologized to Elliott after the debate for the attack, claiming his campaign team had put him up to it. Smith said despite the acrimony, the pair remain friends.

“Christine respects that Doug is trying to win here,” he said.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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