2 Conservative MPs switch allegiance from Patrick Brown to Pierre Poilievre
The departures mean Brampton, Ont. Mayor Patrick Brown has only two MPs backing his candidacy
Two Conservative MPs have defected from Brampton, Ont. Mayor Patrick Brown's team to support Pierre Poilievre, his main rival in the party's leadership race — a move that leaves Brown with just two MPs backing his candidacy.
Hamilton-area MP Dan Muys and MP Kyle Seeback, who represents neighbouring Dufferin-Caledon in the House of Commons, both announced Tuesday they're abandoning Brown for Poilievre. Their departures come after Poilievre's campaign said over the weekend that it has sold an eye-popping 312,000 memberships in the race for the party's top job.
Conservative sources told CBC News that roughly 600,000 party members will be eligible to vote in September's leadership election.
A Poilievre campaign source — who spoke to CBC News on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to speak publicly — said the team is confident Poilievre can win the race on the first ballot given how many memberships he's sold so far.
The party has not confirmed any of the membership sales figures released by the campaigns.
Brown's team said Friday the mayor had sold over 150,000 memberships. Former Quebec premier Jean Charest also said he's convinced enough people in key ridings to take out memberships to allow him to win the race. The party allocates points to all 338 federal ridings and candidates are assigned a point total depending on their percentage of the vote in each riding.
MPs say Poilievre best choice to unite the party
Despite competing claims of membership sales strength, Seeback and Muys signalled Tuesday they believe the winner is already known.
In a statement on social media, Seeback said he "believes there's one candidate ... who can unite conservatives and Canadians to become our next prime minister. That's Pierre Poilievre."
Muys, a rookie MP who was first elected to the Commons last fall, said Seeback "is right."
Muys said that while out campaigning with Ontario Progressive Conservative candidates during the recent provincial election campaign, he witnessed "divisiveness" and he suggested that the best way to heal those divisions is to "unify behind Pierre Poilievre."
"Canada needs him and us to get this done," Muys said.
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The two departures have dealt a blow to Brown. Just two sitting MPs now support the mayor's candidacy: Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner and MP Doug Shipley, who represents Barrie, Ont., the area Brown used to represent in the Commons.
Poilievre has 56 sitting MPs supporting his leadership bid. Charest has been endorsed by 16 MPs.
Chisholm Pothier, a spokesperson for Brown, told CBC News the mayor is "very confident" that he can win the race.
"We like where we're at, we like our numbers and there's a weird lack of confidence coming from the Poilievre camp with their over-the-top attacks," Pothier said, citing some of the social media squabbling that has become a hallmark of this race.
"This isn't a game for the faint of heart. An endorsement from anyone and two bucks gets you a cup of coffee and one vote. We just lost two votes. We'll make them up somewhere else," he said.