Conservative leadership race nears finish line with final day of voting

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OTTAWA — The Conservative leadership race nears the finish line today with a 5 p.m. eastern deadline for ballots to be returned to the party.

Upwards of 150,000 ballots have been received so far and a winner from among the four candidates will be announced on Sunday night.

Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan are all in the running for the top job, left open when current leader Andrew Scheer announced last December that he would resign once his successor was chosen.

The leadership race saw several more people try to make the cut, but the $300,000 entry fee and 3,000 signatures needed was too high a barrier for them to overcome.

That was especially true once the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, forcing candidates to abandon in-person meet and greets and pivot to entirely virtual campaigns.

But as restrictions have loosened, the four candidates have been back on the road, and so are the volunteers — some driving as far as two hours to pick up just a single ballot, as every vote will count in the race.