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The Conservative Party has officially announced that they will be suspending their leadership race as the COVID-19 virus continues to sweep through Canada and the globe.
In a post published late Thursday night, the Conservatives stated that it was "no longer possible to meet the deadlines necessary" to continue with the coming dates for donation processing, as well as ballot counts—suspending the campaign until a date later to be determined.
The Conservative Party said that it was "impossible" to complete vital tasks for the contests, and that the Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) would conduct a full re-evaluation of the dates and times needed to complete the race.
Additionally, the scheduled debates for candidates has been suspended, and will be determined after May 1. Membership deadlines have also been pushed back until May 15.
Calls for suspension from candidates
The leadership race has been a hotly contested matter as of late, with percieved front runner Erin O'Toole having called for the race's suspension on Monday.
"We are in unprecedented times for our country," said O'Toole in his tweet. "The LEOC "should ensure that all time and resources of our Conservative caucus and our grassroots members can be focused on helping our constituents and the needs of our communities in the fight against COVID-19."
O'Toole wasn't alone in his call for the race's suspension, as Sarnia-Lampton MP Marilyn Gladu and the opposition's Director of Stakeholder Relations Rudy Husny expressed similar sentiments.
"I still fundamentally believe now is not the time to campaign," said Husny. "During this national health crisis, I don’t have the heart to call our members to ask them to support my nomination and to donate money."
"I wouldn’t be true to myself if I did," he added. Husny declared that he would drop out of the race unless the LEOC changed the schedule.
MacKay wanted race to continue
Another candidate, former Harper cabinet member Peter MacKay, expressed clear sentiment wanting the race to continue. Several hours before the Conservatives officially announced the virtual suspension of the race, MacKay tweeted a showing an island off the coast of California with a large caption reading "We can't delay democracy."
Before the tweet, MacKay encouraged Canadians to not show "weakness" in the midst of a global pandemic.
"This is not a time to show weakness and push the pause button on our democratic process. The leadership race must continue," tweeted MacKay.
The Facebook group Elect Conservatives launched a petition in support of postponement on March 14th.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.