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Candidates down to the wire to enter Conservative leadership contest

A man is silhouetted walking past a Conservative Party logo before the opening of the Party's national convention in Halifax on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Two new candidates have been approved to enter the Conservative leadership race as the clock ticks down towards Thursday’s deadline to register.

New MP Derek Sloan and Ontario party activist Jim Karahalios were given the green light by the Conservative party to run.

That means they, along with Marilyn Gladu, Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, have now handed in 1,000 signatures, a $25,000 fee and a completed application _ the first stage of the contest rules.

At least another six people are still hustling to hit those benchmarks by the 5 p.m. deadline Thursday, but even if they submit everything on time, there’s no guarantee they’ll still be allowed in.

The party must first verify all the signatures, and then reserves the right to interview the candidates before making a decision.

Among those waiting for the interview is Richard Decarie, the controversial Quebec candidate who holds strong views opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.

The party has also announced they will be holding two official leadership debates, one English debate in Toronto and a French debate in Montreal.

The Toronto debate will happen on April 17 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre with the the one in Montreal happening at the l’Amphithéâtre du Gesù on April 23.

With files from News Staff