Ford cites membership system as a key decider in PC leadership race

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Doug Ford says the way memberships are being handled by Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives could affect the outcome of the leadership race.

From a short time frame to sign up members, to the website crashing, he said he’s concerned the party can’t keep up.

“Ford Nation,” as his supporters are called, have “bombarded” the party trying to sign up, but Ford says many weren’t able to get through.

He joked that, if elected, his budget would provide money for better website servers.

He didn’t say if the way the membership process is organized could work against him.

Ford is one of three candidates who have formally entered the race to lead Ontario’s PCs against Kathleen Wynne in June after sexual misconduct allegations caused Patrick Brown to step down as leader.

Not blaming party

Overworked staff are a problem, he said during the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa this weekend.

“They didn’t expect [that] many memberships,” he said, referencing some 11,000 PC memberships he alleges stemmed from his rally at the beginning of the month.

CBC News reached out to the party to confirm what Ford said, but a spokesperson responded that they “will only give an update on memberships at [a] later date.”

Ultimately, Ford said he wishes the membership sign-up period would have been several weeks longer than the two weeks candidates have been afforded, but he quickly emphasized he wasn’t upset with the party.

“I’m not going to throw my party under the bus ever.”

The candidates have until Friday, Feb. 15, to sign up new members, and the winner will be announced on March 10.

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