Canadian conservative slams party for exclusion from leadership race

FILE PHOTO: Brampton's Mayor Patrick Brown announces that he is entering the race for the leadership of Canada's Conservative Party, at his first campaign event in Brampton, Ontario, Canada March 13, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

OTTAWA (Reuters) - One of the top contenders in Canada's Conservative Party leadership contest, Patrick Brown, on Wednesday slammed a decision to disqualify him from the race as "undemocratic" and said he was consulting his legal team about what to do next.

Late on Tuesday, the party disqualified Brown citing "serious allegations of wrongdoing" of campaign finance rules, according to a statement.

The party said it would share its information with the country's elections watchdog after the Brown campaign "did not satisfy concerns" about compliance.

In a statement, the Brown campaign said it "was never provided with the full details or evidence of these allegations", and said the decision was taken to favor the election of frontrunner Pierre Poilievre.

"The attempt to silence Canadians and skirt democratic values through this unfounded disqualification is the only way to ensure (Poilievre's) victory was secured," the statement said.

Former Conservative leader Erin O'Toole was ousted in February after losing last year's general election to Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. O'Toole's ejection from the party came after he was accused of not fully embracing massive protests against the government's COVID-19 vaccination policies.

Since then, Poilievre - who was a vocal supporter of the protests - has emerged as the frontrunner by attacking the central bank and government for failing to contain inflation and promising to embrace cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin if elected.

In a Leger poll published last month, Brown was in third place with just 4% of Conservative voters saying he was their top choice, compared to 44% for Poilievre. Jean Charest was in second place with 14%, according to Leger.

The winner of the vote will be announced on Sept. 10.

(Editing by Deepa Babington)

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