An official from the Kellie Leitch campaign is raising new concerns over the voting process used in the recent Conservative leadership race, fuelling questions over Andrew Scheer's razor-thin victory.
Last week, members of Conservative MP Maxime Bernier's team publicly called on the party to explain a 7,466-vote discrepancy in the final ballot count. The Conservative Party said 141,362 voters were counted, but the list of members who voted, as provided to the various leadership camps, included only 133,896 names.
Over the weekend, a senior member of Ms. Leitch's campaign raised questions over the exact role played by officials at the accounting firm Deloitte during the process. While Conservative Party president Scott Lamb said last week the results of the race were "audited," former Conservative MP Bob Dechert said the level of oversight was far lower.
"There was nothing like an audit-level, independent review and oversight of the procedures," said Mr. Dechert, a lawyer who supervised the voting process as Ms. Leitch's main counsel during the race.
A copy of the deal between the Conservative Party and Deloitte shows that the firm was not specifically tasked with auditing the vote. Instead, Deloitte was asked on voting day to "monitor" the count room, "observe" the counting process and "recalculate and reconcile" the results.
"It is common to have an accounting firm certify the results, and I know that [Deloitte] specifically did not do that," Mr. Dechert said. "That came as a surprise to most campaigns, but that was a decision the party made for perhaps good and valid reasons, such as the cost of doing that."
Mr. Dechert added he did not witness any attempt by anyone to orchestrate the results in favour of any campaign. Ms. Leitch finished in seventh place in the first round of voting and a spokesman for her team said she is not contesting the results of the race.
Addressing the concerns of the Bernier camp last week, the Conservative Party president said the election was fair and that the results stood as announced.
"Elections are decided and verified and complete, and people can speculate about them all they want. But it was an audited, final result," Mr. Lamb said in an interview.
In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Bernier said the party must step forward and offer clear explanations on the voting process to all members.
"Is this a minor issue, is this not a minor issue? I want answers from the party," Mr. Bernier said. "I think members have a right to know what happened and why there is a difference between the numbers of votes."
Mr. Bernier lost on the 13th and final ballot to Mr. Scheer, who won with 50.95 per cent of the points awarded in a complex voting system. Up until that point, Mr. Bernier had been leading on all ballots.
One of the major concerns in the Bernier camp is that some Conservative members may have voted twice, once by mail and once at an in-person voting station.
In addition, the Bernier camp wants to know why David Filmon, the party's chief returning officer, ordered that all the ballots be destroyed immediately after the vote and why scrutineers were not informed of the discrepancy. The destruction of the ballots was anticipated, but the timing of the shredding is now in question.
There were a large number of calls for party "unity" before and after the results of the leadership race were announced. However, the position taken by Mr. Bernier and members of his team have sparked tensions in Conservative circles, with some rivals' camps branding the situation on social media as a case of "sour grapes."
At least one Conservative Party official is expected to come forward this week with a sworn affidavit detailing questions about the results of the final vote and the timing of the destruction of all of the ballots, sources said.
Officials at Conservative Party headquarters are downplaying the seriousness of the Bernier team's allegations, noting they are coming from a losing camp in a lengthy, hard-fought campaign.
"The story is there are some people who are mad," one party official said, speaking on background. "They thought they won and they had it taken away, and they're really angry."
The party official said the discrepancy is due to the fact the names of about 3,000 people who voted at 13 polling stations outside of Toronto weren't entered into the party's database and therefore weren't on the list provided to campaigns the night before the vote.
The official said the other issue is inconsistent data entry on about 4,000 ballots – a result of volunteers having to go through more than 140,000 ballots in a short period of time.
Mr. Scheer's office declined to comment on the allegations, calling them a party matter.