Court to hear application to extend Ontario PC leadership race

A Toronto lawyer has filed an application for an injunction to extend the deadline to vote in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership.

Move comes after the party rejected requests by 3 leadership hopefuls for a week-long extension

The candidates battling to lead the Ontario PC party are, from left: Christine Elliott, Tanya Granic Allen, Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney. (The Canadian Press/

A Toronto lawyer has filed an application for an injunction to extend the deadline to vote in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership.

Jeffrey Radnoff said the Superior Court of Justice was scheduled to hear his application for an injunction on Friday morning, just hours before voting in the contentious race was scheduled to end.

In an email late Thursday Radnoff said that his client, listed on the notice of application as Christopher Arsenault, had not received a personal identification number allowing him to vote. 

It's not too late to… fix this.— Tanya  Granic  Allen, leadership candidate

"Clearly, a significant number of members of the party, including the applicant, have been deprived of their right to vote
as guaranteed in the party's constitution," Radnoff wrote.

Lawyer John Nunziata, who is also a former Toronto-area MP, said he approached Radnoff after being contacted by multiple people in the party. Nunziata — who will also be in court on Friday — said the action isn't on behalf of any particular candidate.

"There's hundreds if not thousands of party members who want to vote but can't vote because the system is broken. The technology has not played out the way it ought to," Nunziata told CBC Toronto on Thursday evening.

The move comes after the party announced early Thursday it would not extend registration or voting deadlines any further, rejecting requests from three of the four leadership candidates for a one-week extension.

"It is unfortunate to learn that certain individuals may be considering this step, after we have worked so closely with leadership campaigns and with party members," the chair of the party's leadership election organizing committee, Hartley Lefton, told CBC News.

Lefton pointed out the party has already extended the voter registration period three times and extended the voting deadline once, saying voting must conclude no later than March 9.

The final extension to the registration deadline — made on Wednesday, to 8 p.m. ET Thursday — was because of the "continued stream of members" who were still receiving the verification PINs needed for the online vote, he said. 

Party members originally had until March 2 to register.

Three of the four leadership candidates — Ford, Mulroney and Granic Allen — had asked for a one-week extension in voting. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Leadership hopeful Christine Elliott, the only candidate who has not asked for an extension, said she's focusing on getting as many members out to vote before noon Friday as possible. 

Filing the injunction is "their right to do so," she said, "but for my part I'm doing what's within my control."

Elliott said 50,000 members have already voted, adding that's the highest number in any leadership campaign since 2002. Some 70,000 members are registered, she said. 

The system is working. Are there some problems with it? Yes, of course,— Christine Elliott, leadership candidate

"The system is working. Are there some problems with it? Yes, of course," said Elliott. But, she added, the party has constitutional reasons why the deadline can't be extended.

Caroline Mulroney, who is also in the running, told CBC News she was initially disappointed that the party did not extend the vote. But she said she's working with the party to get as many people registered as possible.

In a tweet, Mulroney said she had heard of members not receiving their packages and were therefore unable to vote, echoing remarks from candidate Doug Ford, who on Wednesday in a statement claimed he'd met with many "outraged" voters. 

A campaign spokesperson said Ford's team learned about the injunction late Thursday, through Twitter, and that Ford is not involved. 

In a statement Thursday night, Tanya Granic Allen said she urged the party to take "immediate" measures to delay the leadership vote by a week.

"It's not too late to have an emergency meeting tonight, and fix this," the leadership hopeful said.

With files from The Canadian Press