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Green party leadership pushes membership roll soars since election

OTTAWA — Nearly 35,000 people are eligible to cast votes in next month's Green party leadership race.

OTTAWA — Nearly 35,000 people are eligible to cast votes in next month's Green party leadership race.

Those numbers suggest the party will smash the turnout in the last Green leadership race 14 years ago, when fewer than 3,300 people cast ballots in the contest that put Elizabeth May at the party's helm.

The party says membership is up from 22,000 at the end of the 2019 federal election, with officials saying the Greens added 15,000 new members to their list during the leadership race.

The deadline to become a member in time to vote for the new leader was Sept. 3.

One in three of the party's members live in Ontario, and one in four live in British Columbia.

Only 260 people asked for mail-in ballots, leaving almost all members to cast online votes starting Sept. 26.

The winner is to be announced at a small Ottawa event Oct. 3, involving mainly the party's three MPs, its national council and the eight candidates.

Plans to have a bigger leadership convention in Prince Edward Island were foiled by COVID-19.

Toronto-based international affairs expert Annamie Paul and Montreal lawyer Dimitri Lascaris are the front runners in the money side of the game.

Paul was closing in on $200,000 in donations by the end of August, almost one-third of the total amount raised by all the candidates in the race. Lascaris showed significant momentum that same month, nearly doubling his total donations to more than $112,000.

Paul also leads in total number of donors, with more than 1,600, compared to 958 for Lascaris. All of the remaining candidates had fewer than 410 donors each.

Emergency doctor Courtney Howard, former Ontario Liberal environment minister Glen Murray, astrophysicist Amita Kuttner, and lawyers David Merner, Meryam Haddad and Andrew West round out the list of candidates.

The party is electing its first new leader since 2006 to succeed May, who stepped down last fall after leading the party to its best finish ever with three seats in the House of Commons.

May remains an MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands in B.C. and the party's parliamentary leader, a role she is likely to maintain after the new leader is chosen because none of the eight contenders are currently MPs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the Green party nearly doubled its membership during the leadership race. It also said more than 35,000 people are eligible to cast votes in the party's leadership race.