Justin Trudeau is expected to win the Liberal leadership with early indications showing that in Atlantic Canada, at least, his supporters dominated the voting.
Polls closed at 3 p.m. ET Sunday – ending a six-month-long campaign that started with nine candidates and has ended with six. The new leader will be announced around 6 p.m. ET. in Ottawa.
Mr. Trudeau is the clear front-runner –spectacularly out-fundraising his competitors and drawing significant crowds wherever he went. Predictions are that he will win on the first ballot.
There were about 127,000 eligible voters, of whom 104,552 voted by telephone or online. That is a bigger percentage than the voter turnout for the NDP leadership last year that elected Thomas Mulcair as leader.
In some of the Atlantic provinces, tracking showed that by midday about 80 per cent of eligible voters had voted. The Trudeau campaign was believed to have signed up about 65 per cent of those voters, so they are likely to vote for him. And of that 65 per cent, nearly 85 per cent of them had voted, according to a source close to the Trudeau camp. In some ridings, more than 80 per cent of his identified supporters had voted.
Mr. Trudeau is in Ottawa with his family Sunday. He was making phone calls to volunteers and organizers to keep them motivated. His spokesperson Kate Monfette would not say if his team expects to win on the first ballot, but "we're hoping for the best," she said.
A cheer went up in Martha Hall Findlay's Ottawa headquarters when it was announced the polls had closed at 3 pm. E.T. Expected to come in third place, Ms. Hall Findlay, however, is ending this leadership free of debt – a big achievement considering the efforts and years it took to pay off her debt from her 2006 leadership run.
She raised about $250,000 this time around.
Heather Keachie, her spokeswoman, said that they feel the turnout was high, too. She had no numbers to give out. But Ms. Keachie said she received one call Sunday from a concerned woman who needed to know what Ms. Hall Findlay would do if she were elected, given that she doesn't have a seat in the House of Commons.
She was reassured that other Liberal leaders have been elected without having a seat – and a by-election is called.
Over at Joyce Murray's campaign, meanwhile, Brenden Johnstone, her communications director, said the campaign went well for them. He said he had seen no numbers but believes Ms. Murray, who has advocated one-time co-operation with the NDP and Green Party to defeat the Tories, is believed to be in second place.
Over the past week since voting opened, Ms. Murray has been calling potential voters, especially in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Mr. Johnstone said that she was the first candidate some of these voters had even heard from.
He said they will be waiting to see if all of this "will put us over the top."