The federal Liberals have confirmed that nearly 300,000 Canadians will be eligible to vote in the party’s leadership race that ends next month.
Party president Mike Crawley announced Wednesday via the social networking site Twitter that “294,002 signed up.” That includes both card-carrying members who have paid a $10 fee to join the party and a new class of supporters who are not members but will still be allowed to vote.
More than half of them are believed to have been signed up by Quebec MP Justin Trudeau, the presumed frontrunner. But Joyce Murray, a British Columbia MP, has said she has enlisted “tens of thousands.”
All of the people who will cast a ballot in the race must now take the next step of registering before they can participate in the election.
The combined Liberal members and supporters far outnumber the 128,000 actual members that the New Democrats had on their lists last year when Thomas Mulcair was elected to lead that party.
The Liberals, who in 2011 were reduced to 34 seats and third-party status in the Commons, set Sunday of this week as the final day for signing up people to vote in the leadership race that ends in April. But it took several days to weed out fake names and people who had signed up more than once.
In January, the party said about 96,000 Canadians were eligible to vote for the new leader. Roughly 55,000 of those were party members and the rest were part the new supporter class. So to enter the final stage of the race with nearly 300,000 eligible voters represents a considerable increase in support.
It also means that the party has created a huge database of names and e-mails from which to recruit volunteers and rally support.