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Green party nearly doubles membership list ahead of leadership race

Click to play video 'A Conversation with Green Party Interim Leader, Jo-Ann Roberts' A Conversation with Green Party Interim Leader, Jo-Ann Roberts
WATCH: A Conversation with Green Party Interim Leader, Jo-Ann Roberts

More than 35,000 people are eligible to cast votes in next month’s Green party leadership race.

That would absolutely smash the turnout in the last Green leadership race 14 years ago, when fewer than 3,300 people cast ballots in the contest that put Elizabeth May at the party’s helm.

Party officials say the Greens added 15,000 new people to their membership list during the campaign.

The deadline to become a voting member was Sept. 3.

Read more: Green Party to likely hold virtual leadership convention amid coronavirus, May says

Only 260 people asked for mail-in ballots, leaving almost all members to cast online votes starting Sept. 26.

The winner is to be announced at a small Ottawa event Oct. 3, involving mainly the party’s three MPs, its national council and the eight candidates.

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Plans to have a bigger leadership convention in Prince Edward Island were foiled by COVID-19.

Toronto-based international affairs expert Annamie Paul and Montreal lawyer Dimitri Lascaris are the front runners in the money side of the game.

Click to play video 'What’s next for the Green Party without Elizabeth May as leader' What’s next for the Green Party without Elizabeth May as leader
What’s next for the Green Party without Elizabeth May as leader

Paul was closing in on $200,000 in donations by the end of August, almost one-third of the total amount raised by all the candidates in the race. Lascaris showed significant momentum that same month, nearly doubling his total donations to more than $112,000.

Paul also leads in total number of donors, with more than 1,600, compared to 958 for Lascaris. All of the remaining candidates had fewer than 410 donors each.

Emergency doctor Courtney Howard, former Ontario Liberal environment minister Glen Murray, astrophysicist Amita Kuttner, and lawyers David Merner, Meryam Haddad and Andrew West round out the list of candidates.

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Read more: Green Party candidate from Nova Scotia withdraws from leadership race

The party is electing its first new leader since 2006 to succeed Elizabeth May, who stepped down last fall after leading the party to its best finish ever with three seats in the House of Commons.

May remains an MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands in B.C. and the party’s parliamentary leader, a role she is likely to maintain after the new leader is chosen because none of the eight contenders are currently MPs