Sources say candidates have been huddling in restaurants, hotel bars and even in each other’s houses and condos over home-cooked meals in recent days to discuss strategy for the delegated Maple Leaf Gardens convention.
“We all understand the candidates need to be comfortable with each other,” said a senior official on one campaign, who, like some others interviewed, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.
“This is to lay the groundwork for the convention,” said the insider, noting there could be “tense conversations that Saturday” as candidates jockey on the convention floor after each ballot when the candidate with the fewest votes automatically drops out of the race.
“Everyone is waiting to see where the numbers go. When they’re off the ballot they’ll make that kind of decision (about moving to someone else). I don’t think anyone’s going to be jumping off the bus anytime soon,” he said.
This weekend, 1,712 delegates will be elected in 107 ridings. An additional 419 ex officio members — such as MPPs, defeated candidates, and party brass — and 144 youth representatives from 18 campus clubs and eight women’s club delegates can also vote.
In a convention like this, every vote counts so relations among the various camps are crucial.
Pupatello has 1,281 in 106 ridings.
Gerard Kennedy, the former Parkdale—High Park MP and MPP who finished second to McGuinty in the Liberals’ 1996 leadership contest, has 846 in 97 ridings.
Murray has 461 in 82 ridings and Mississauga Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar has 456 delegate candidates in 54 ridings.
“Remember, the delegates are only committed (to their candidate) on the first ballot. There could be significant shifts.”