Candidates’ $5M spending cap in Conservative leadership race draws mixed response

OTTAWA — Prospective Conservative leadership hopefuls and other Tory MPs are offering mixed reaction on whether the $5-million spending cap for the race will hurt less-established candidates, but they maintain the points-based system the party is using for electing a new leader is the fairest option.

Some MPs considering a run for the party crown doubt the $5-million expense limit will scare off candidates or hurt their chances. Others noted there’s a limited pool of fundraising dollars to be had and aren’t yet sure what it will mean to the race.

However, some Tory MPs watching the race from the sidelines quietly wonder whether the large spending cap could hinder potential leadership hopefuls at a time the party should want a large field of candidates.

The officially launched the leadership race on Tuesday with the release of the contest rules. The next Conservative leader will be elected on May 27, 2017, meaning candidates could face a year or more of organizing and campaigning.

Candidates will need $100,000 if they want to join the race, including a $50,000 registration fee and a refundable $50,000 compliance deposit.

The $5-million spending limit is more than five times the $950,000 cap set by the Liberal party for its 2013 leadership contest won by Justin Trudeau, and double the $2.5-million ceiling for the 2004 Conservative leadership race won by Stephen Harper.

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Some Conservatives believe the $5-million spending cap could give an advantage to longtime MPs such as Jason Kenney, Peter MacKay or possibly Tony Clement, who

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