TORONTO — You could see it on Andrew Scheer’s face.

Around 7:45 p.m., before the final ballot of the leadership race, with his campaign manager trying to get him backstage, the Saskatchewan MP wore more of a smile than usual, seeming to know what was about to happen.

A closer-than-expected battle had unfolded between Scheer and Maxime Bernier, the frontrunner for the final month of the campaign, at the Conservative Party’s leadership convention in Toronto Saturday evening.

The first sign of trouble for Bernier — and of hope for Scheer — came at the first ballot. Though they had come in confident Mad Max would secure victory, worry took root in the Bernier campaign team after fewer than 30 per cent of voters marked him as their top choice. The gap between Bernier and Scheer after the first round of voting was just seven percentage points.

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