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The Conservative leadership campaign took another nasty turn Thursday with two of the frontrunners trading shots over what the other calls unethical behavior. Pierre Poilievre is running television ads in Toronto attacking Patrick Brown over his actions as mayor of Brampton while Brown is accusing Poilievre of running a misleading membership sales campaign.

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The TV ads attacking Brown started appearing on local Toronto TV highlighting Brown’s attempt to get a university located in Brampton. The 15-second spots, airing on CP24 and in paid social media posts, claim Brown wasted more than $600,000 of taxpayer money on the university project.

“If you can’t trust him to run a city, how can you trust him to run the country?” both ads ask in their closing line.

One of the ads states that while Brampton residents deal with sky-high housing prices and rising crime rate, “Brown is trying out for another job.”

Brown is seen as one of the main challengers to Poilievre, along with Jean Charest, in the six-person leadership race. While Poilievre is considered the frontrunner and claims to have sold more than half of the 600,0000 memberships the Conservative Party has now registered, it’s clear they are taking Brown seriously.

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An attack ad like this, placed on TV in a major media market, isn’t a cheap endeavor and isn’t something the campaign would be doing if the leadership race was all sewn up.

Brown, who claims to have sold more than 150,000 memberships, is crying foul at Poilievre’s tactics to build up his membership sales. His national campaign co-chair of him, John Reynolds, released a letter sent to the Conservative Party complaining about what he called, “the Poilievre’s campaign fraudulent use of email correspondence.”

The claim is that the Poilievre campaign increased their sales numbers by emailing party members and telling them they couldn’t vote unless they renewed their membership.

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“The Pierre Poilievre campaign, near the membership cutoff of June 3, 2022, sent out misleading emails to the membership titled “Membership status: incomplete”. The emails appeared to be official correspondence from the party,” Reynolds wrote.

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Anyone getting these emails was directed to sign up for a new membership through the Pierre Poilievre membership portal. Reynolds wrote that tens of thousands of people may have signed up for a second membership due to these tactics. He wants the party and Elections Canada to investigate.

On Wednesday, the Charest campaign released a letter calling for the party to release the full membership list now so that duplicate members, including those who may have purchased a second membership, can be dealt with before ballots are mailed out this summer.

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