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Joel Etienne demands appeal to disqualification from Conservative leadership

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Joel Etienne is demanding an appeal to the Conservative party’s decision to disqualify him from the leadership race, saying the party accepted the money he raised but left him off the ballot.

In a nine-page letter obtained by Global News, Etienne’s campaign accused Conservative party brass of “disenfranchising” the party members who supported his campaign, suggesting it amounted to “corruption of democracy at its core.”

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Etienne’s campaign claims that all the donations made to his campaign, totaling almost $360,000, was processed by the party on April 29, the deadline for campaigns to submit their compliance and registration fees.

“What the Etienne campaign knows for a fact is that every donation, except for one, was processed on Friday April 29th … bringing the campaign well over the required threshold,” reads the statement, sent to Global News by a source close to Etienne.

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“The critical opportunity for the campaign and candidacy to become known to the greater party membership was these next two months before the summer. The party (executives) have put a stop to that!”

Contacted by Global News Tuesday, Etienne said his campaign “has no comments to the media at this time other than to say that the matter is now under appeal with the party, (and is) hoping that the party will act in good faith.”

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Questions to the Conservative party’s executive director, Wayne Benson, were not returned Tuesday.

Etienne was one of three candidates who questioned why the party kept them off the ballot. In the campaign’s request for an appeal, Etienne’s camp alleged that party executives told the candidate they expected some of his signatures and donations would be rejected, but did not provide an explanation for their position.

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Joseph Bougault, a vaccine-skeptic businessman from rural Saskatchewan and a supporter of the convoy protests, said he had submitted more than $367,000 — well over the $300,000 threshold to gain access to the race — by the deadline. Bourgault’s camp is “seeking clarification” as to why he’s not on the ballot.

Grant Abraham, a consultant and relative unknown in Canadian conservative politics who ran for the U.K. Conservatives in 2019, also said he submitted the required funds and signatures.

Read more: COVID-19 pandemic shaping the race for the next Conservative leader

Other leadership hopefuls, including MP Marc Dalton and former Conservative deputy leader Leona Alleslev, withdrew from the race after failing to meet the fundraising threshold.

That leaves the assumed frontrunner, Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre, to square off against former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Haldimand-Norfolk MP Leslyn Lewis, Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison, and former Ontario MPP Roman Baber.

The candidates are scheduled to share a stage in Ottawa this week at the “Canada Strong and Free Network” conference – formerly known as the Manning Centre. The conference, which draws in conservatives from across the country, will host the first unofficial leadership debate Thursday evening.

The Conservatives will announce their next leader on Sept. 10.

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With files from the Canadian Press. 

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