If the race was decided by popular vote alone, Leslyn Lewis would now be the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
In a stunning result Sunday night, Lewis captured more of the popular vote that winner Erin O’Toole and runner-up Peter MacKay did on the second ballot.
On the second ballot, Lewis had 60,316 votes, while O’Toole had 56,907 and MacKay had 54,165. That breaks down to 35.2 per cent for Lewis, 33.2 for O’Toole and 31.6 for MacKay.
But because of the weighted-by-constituency system used by the Tories – where ridings count equally regardless of how many ballots are cast – Lewis ranked just third in the points awarded. The weighted system was a key demand by Peter MacKay in the 2003 merger with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada. Western Conservatives have regularly attempted – but failed – to change the system which significantly waters down the votes of Westerners and amplifies those in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Lewis won all four Western provinces on the second ballot.
It was a shockingly good result for a woman who was relatively unknown outside of her community before the race to replace Andrew Scheer started.
Lewis, a black woman with immigrant parents, even won the provinces of Alberta Saskatchewan by large margins.
Lewis, 49, is a Toronto lawyer and the former Conservative candidate in a Toronto-area riding in the 2015 election, where the party has little chance of winning. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Toronto, two master’s degrees, a law degree and a PhD in International Law.
One of the challenges O’Toole now faces is harnessing the energy she has created and using it in the next federal election, which could come as early as fall.
Lewis has said she intended to run as a Tory in the next election.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard