Alliance leadership vote ends Friday

The race for leadership of the Canadian Alliance is coming down to the wire, with party members casting their votes by mail this Friday.
The campaign teams of Diane Ablonczy, Stockwell Day, Stephen Harper, and Grant Hill have until the end of the week to convince party members to choose their candidate as the new party leader.
So far there doesn’t seem to be a clear leader among party supporters in this area.
“We’ve got people supporting each of the candidates,” Brian Williams, president of the Kenora-Rainy River riding association said Monday.
Every party member who renewed their membership before March 1 is eligible to vote in this one-member-one-vote election. Voters must have their ballots mailed by Friday in order to be considered in the election.
Results of the vote will be announced next Wednesday evening and if a second ballot is required to elect a new leader, members will have until March 28 to make up their minds.
Williams said there are more than 260 people eligible to vote in this riding.
“That number could actually be double since I don’t know how many new members were signed up in the last month before the deadline,” he said.
The race to replace Stockwell Day has been quiet. One of the main issues dividing the candidates is their approach to the possibility of uniting with the federal Progressive Conservatives.
“Diane Ablonczy and Grant Hill say they will, and are in favour of it, but Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper say they will only negotiate something if that’s what the party wants,” Williams said.
Unlike the upcoming Ontario Conservative leadership race, local voters have not had the chance to meet the candidates and discuss their issues. Williams said he doesn’t think that makes it any more difficult to make a decision.
“I don’t have a lot of problems with that. We’ve been getting literature in the mail, there are Web sites and people have been on the phone with us,” he said.
Williams is also a supporter of the new voting system, which replaces the telephone voting that took place during the last leadership vote. Organizers found that their phone system was not compatible with some of the municipal phone companies, and that even when it was working they couldn’t handle the number of calls they received.
“People in some municipalities had to go out of town to vote. Those without touch tone phones had to go to someone else’s to vote,” Williams recalled.
Williams said there could be improvements to the mail out ballots, which will require members to vote twice.
“I’d prefer a single preferential ballot where you can vote for your first choice and then your second choice,” he said.
In any case, Williams said he is excited by the prospect of a new leader, no matter who is elected.
“It will make a change pretty much no matter who wins. Even if Stockwell Day is elected, it should end all the hopes of those who want to get rid of him,” he said.
“I think then we’ll be done dealing with the leadership issue and move ahead to developing policy and preparing for the next election.”