PC leadership convention to be held in Halifax this October

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives will pick a new leader in Halifax on Oct. 27, 2018. Every member will get to vote, but the party has picked a riding-by-riding point system to determine the winner.

Campaign will use points system that allocates 100 points to each constituency, winner will need 2,551 points

The five people who have entered the PC leadership race are MLA John Lohr, MLA Tim Houston, Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market executive director Julie Chaisson, MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke. (www.johnlohr.ca/Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party/Submitted by Julie Chaisson/CBC/CBC)

Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives will pick a new leader in Halifax on Oct. 27, 2018. Every member will get to vote, but the party has picked a riding-by-riding point system to determine the winner.

Leadership co-chair, Argyle MLA Chris d'Entremont, said the 51 constituencies in the province will be worth 100 points each, meaning there will be a total of 5,100 points up for grabs.

Candidates will collect points based on the percentages of votes they collect in each constituency.

The candidate who can amass 2,551 points or more will win.

What the points system hopes to achieve

The system will give each constituency equal value and will force candidates to try to win in every constituency rather than simply concentrating on ridings that have big memberships, said d'Entremont.

"You're pretty much equal to one another, but it also creates this issue of getting the leadership candidates to actually work in those constituencies that need it the most," he said.

"If we have a constituency that has five to 10 or 20 members, you know darned well they're going to go work in those constituencies to make sure that they're full up on their numbers so they can get the 100 points."

Former Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie speaks at Province House on Feb. 21, 2017. (Robert Short/CBC)

The points system will apply to those who mail in a ballot and those who choose to cast a ballot on the day of the leadership vote at the convention. The venue hasn't been chosen yet, but it will take place somewhere in the Halifax region.

The leader's job is up for grabs after former leader Jamie Baillie announced his intention last November to step down once a new leader was picked.

However, his departure was sped up when he was forced out in January over allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

So far, Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market executive director Julie Chaisson, MLA Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, MLA Tim Houston, MLA John Lohr and Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke have entered the leadership race.

But the party made it clear Sunday that they are not officially candidates until the party has had a chance to vet them.

Tara Erskine, the other leadership co-chair, said the process would be similar to the selection of candidates for an election.

"We're following the same process and we believe it works," she said.

In the 2017 provincial election, the PC Party dropped a candidate mid-campaign for an old tweet that the party felt was inappropriate. The NDP and Liberal campaigns also ditched candidates with controversial social media postings during that election.

What the candidates think of campaign rules

Four of the five candidates who were at the release of the rules said they were happy with them.

"I'm really pleased with the rules," said Smith-McCrossin. "Now, we need to get to work and build the membership."

"The fact that's it's October and not 2019, I'm very pleased with that," said Lohr.

"I'm happy with the rules," said Houston. "I'm happy with the setup. I was a large advocate for one member, one vote."

"I think it's going to mean we're going to have a very robust, exciting and engaged leadership procecs," said Clarke.

Via a Facebook message Sunday afternoon, Chaisson said the rules will ensure "a fair and equal opportunity" for the candidates.

"The one member one vote decision will provide an opportunity to engage with existing and potential members across the province to learn about what is most important to Nova Scotians," she wrote.

No online voting

The party decided against online voting because of problems with similar votes in the past and fears of a system crash.

The cut-off date for candidates to submit their nomination papers is Aug. 13 and candidates have until Aug. 15 to withdraw.

To vote, a person will have to join the party before Sept. 11.

Spending rules

Each campaign will be able to spend up to $325,000 on their bid. Entering and remaining in the race until the end will cost each candidate $30,000.

Candidates can only accept donations from Nova Scotians. Individuals can give up to a maximum of $5,000.