Who’s in, who’s out and who else could join the Conservative party leadership race

Who's in, who's out and who else could join the Conservative party leadership race

With Sept. 10 picked as the date for when the Conservative Party of Canada will have a new leader, time is ticking for prospective candidates and their teams to get into place. Those running have until April 19 to throw their hat into the ring and until June 3 to sell memberships.

Here’s a look at the contest so far:

Who’s in:

Pierre Poilievre: The 42-year-old longtime Ottawa-area MP declared his candidacy just days after former leader Erin O’Toole was ousted. He has begun fundraising and holding events in Montreal, Regina and soon Toronto. One of his chief promises is to cancel the federal carbon tax.

Leslyn Lewis: The third-place finisher in the 2020 leadership race is running again. In the past contest, the former Bay Street lawyer enjoyed heavy backing from the party’s social conservative members and those in Western Canada. She was elected as an MP last fall in the rural southwestern Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk.

Roman Baber: The independent member of the Ontario legislature was kicked out of the Progressive Conservative caucus by Premier Doug Ford for speaking out against COVID-19 lockdowns in January 2021. He says he was the first candidate in the race to do so, and also wants to stand up to cancel culture.

Jean Charest: The former Quebec premier who led the federal Progressive Conservatives in the mid-1990s is jumping back into politics and formally launched his campaign in Calgary. He’s running the under slogan “Built to Win.” Charest, 63, is highlighting his years of experience to party members.

Patrick Brown: The mayor of Brampton, Ont., and former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives entered the race on March 13 at a launch in the Greater Toronto Area. He previously served as an MP. He pitched a bigger Conservative tent, with plans to rebuild trust with members of Canada’s “cultural communities.”

Joseph Bourgault: The businessman from rural Saskatchewan announced in a short Facebook video he’s running for leadership. An accompanying website says his platform includes the promise of eliminating all COVID-19 mandates and the “carbon tax.” The website says Bourgault also co-founded Canadians for Truth, Freedom and Justice, an organization that claims governments and “globalists” are using the pandemic to “justify the great reset.”

Scott Aitchison: The two-term Ontario MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka launched his campaign on March 20. Before being elected as an MP in 2019, he served as the mayor of Huntsville, Ont. Most recently, he was the Conservatives’ labour critic.

Marc Dalton: The MP for Pitt Meadows_Maple Ridge in British Columbia launched his campaign on Twitter on March 20. Dalton was first elected federally in 2019. A former teacher, he also served as a B.C. Liberal MLA from 2009 to 2017.

Leona Alleslev: The former Ontario MP is set to formally announce her candidacy in Ottawa on Wednesday, and has set up a campaign website. Alleslev joined the Conservatives in 2018 after crossing the floor from the Liberals. She was the party’s deputy leader under former leader Andrew Scheer.

Joel Etienne: The Conservative candidate for York Centre in the 2021 federal election has a campaign website and is collecting signatures for nomination papers, but has not officially announced his candidacy. He’s a lawyer with a background in human rights and commercial law.

Bobby Singh: The businessman and entrepreneur from near Toronto says he plans to run for the party’s top spot. His campaign website says he is a champion for human rights and the son of immigrants.

Who’s out:

Peter MacKay: The cabinet minister in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government says he’s decided not to run for leadership this time. He placed second to O’Toole in the 2020 leadership race in a contest many believed he was likely to win. MacKay is still fundraising to pay down his debts from that contest, and says he will support whoever wins this time around.

Michael Chong: The longtime Ontario MP ran in 2017 and says after reflection has decided not to run again. Chong says “now is not the time” and wants to focus on his role as the party’s foreign affairs critic.

Tasha Kheiriddin: The political commentator and consultant said after considering a bid, she decided against running and instead threw her support behind Charest’s campaign.

Rona Ambrose: The party’s last interim leader, who was a cabinet minister in the Harper government, says she’s not going to run despite many Tories hoping that she would.

Brad Wall: Saskatchewan’s former premier says he’s enjoying life in the private sector and won’t be returning to elected politics.

Doug Ford: The Ontario premier says his hands are full running for re-election provincially in June.

Jason Kenney: Alberta’s premier says he’s not interested in going after the party’s top job, even though the former MP was a high-profile cabinet minister in the Harper government.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2022


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