Maxime Bernier leads Tory leadership race after first ballot, Andrew Scheer second

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TORONTO—Deepak Obhrai, the MP from Alberta whose self-deprecating humour and ardent pro-immigrant stance drew applause during the campaign, has been knocked out of the race to become leader of the federal Conservative party.

Obhrai was the first of 13 candidates to drop off the ballot as the party begins disclosing the results of voting, which began weeks ago by mail and culminated today with members voting in person at the Toronto Congress Centre and polling stations across the country.

Maxime Bernier, long viewed as the presumptive front-runner, emerged as the first-ballot leader, with 28.89 per cent of the vote, followed by Andrew Scheer with 21.8 per cent and Erin O’Toole at 10.65 per cent.

Kevin O’Leary, who dropped out of the race abruptly last month but was too late to have his name removed from the ballot, came in 11th with 1.07 per cent, ahead of Rick Peterson, Andrew Saxton and Obhrai.

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The lengthy ranked-ballot system and the size of the field means several rounds of balloting are expected to take place before a winner is finally crowned.

Officials say 132,000 ballots — the party has some 259,000 eligible members — had been received by the Friday deadline for mail-in ballots.

Candidates are scored not by votes, but by points: every riding in the country is allocated 100 points, and each candidate gets a number of points depending on their share of votes in that riding.

If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote on the first count, the last-place contender is eliminated and the second choices from that candidate’s ballots are then counted until one emerges with a majority.