Only a few weeks into his campaign for the Progressive Conservative party leadership, Tony Wakeham discovered he has less time than originally thought to get people signed on to vote.
As a candidate, he’s working to bring in more people as official PC members — pro-Wakeham voters.
In a news release Friday, he claimed the party had moved up the deadline for new member sign-ups by a month, after he announced his candidacy in early December. The statement said his campaign would be undeterred by the change, from a date he had understood to be in February.
“While some might have wanted a coronation, I can assure them that this will not be happening,” he said in the statement.
His competition at this point is Ches Crosbie, who officially launched his campaign in October.
Speaking with The Telegram Friday afternoon, Wakeham acknowledged the application deadline for new members was not actually changed.
On the PC party website, an overview description of the leadership process (published in a release Aug. 1) states that any member of the public interested in the vote for a new leader has to “submit an application by Feb. 28, 2018 to be a member of the PC Party NL under the terms specified in the rules.”
This was the date he and his team were keeping in mind.
However, the reference to the detailed, official rules was important. The rules state applications for any new memberships will have to be in by Jan. 28, in order to provide the membership co-ordinator time to review, verify and approve or reject by Feb. 28.
Wakeham said he clarified the true dates with the party leadership on Dec. 22.
He told The Telegram the written statement from his campaign was meant to highlight the correct deadline for the public.
“Clearly the rule is there that talks about the Jan. 28 date, but all of the public correspondence and the (prior) verbal communication to me was about that the date was Feb. 28,” he said.
Crosbie was not available to comment.
PC party president Graydon Pelley said he knows there had been some misunderstanding based on the brief overview only referring to the February date, but having spoken with both candidates, his understanding is the correct deadline is understood.
The party leadership is encouraging anyone interested in becoming a supporter and casting a vote for the new leader to apply to the party before the Jan. 28 deadline (more information is available online at www.pcpartynl.ca/our-leadership/leadership/).
“We want everybody to sign up who wants to sign up, so we can be well prepared for the leadership race,” Pelley said.
The deadline for nomination forms for additional candidates is Jan. 15.
The party is scheduled to name its new leader on April 28, 2018.