Rick Peterson drops out of Conservative leadership race, citing COVID-19 disruptions

Rick Peterson drops out of Conservative leadership race, citing COVID-19 disruptions
OTTAWA -- Federal Conservative leadership hopeful Rick Peterson announced Friday he was dropping out of the race after not receiving a deadline extension to meet the next round of criteria amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Edmonton-based businessman called the decision to pull out a "difficult" one after he received word from the Conservative Partys Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) that they would not alter the deadlines for membership nomination signatures or mandatory fees.

"A systemic meltdown of the economy in Canada as a result of COVID-19 pandemic severely hampered the chances of a number of us to reach the second stage of qualification. Weve been effectively sidelined since the first week of March," the press release read.

All contestants have until March 25 to become a " Verified Candidate ," raising $200,000 in registration funds, submitting a $100,000 compliance deposit, and gathering 3,000 member signatures in order to continue on and have their name secured on the leadership ballot.

As of March 20, front-runners Peter MacKay, Erin OToole and social conservative candidates Leslyn Lewis, and Derek Sloan have all qualified as "Verified Candidates."

Peterson says the impact of the spread of COVID-19 in Canada has significantly hampered his campaigns ability to gain support financial or otherwise from membership.

"The oxygen that fuels a leadership campaign is direct and personal access to CPC members for their nomination signatures and donations. When a national meltdown such as COVID-19 occurs, and that oxygen is cut off from a leadership campaign, at no matter what stage of the campaign process it is at, its clear that rules need to change and adapt. LEOC and National Council have decided otherwise."

He did not announce who hed be rallying behind as the race tightens.

"In the weeks and months ahead, I will be focussing my efforts on helping out my fellow Western Canadians in any way I can as we work through the massive challenges following the collapse in the energy sector," said Peterson.
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