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

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Published March 13, 2022 at 2:13 pm

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. Among the things he has promised party members 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 MPP in Ontario who Premier Doug Ford booted from the Progressive Conservative caucus 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 Sunday 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.”

Who’s thinking about it:

Scott Aitchison: The two-term Ontario MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka. Before that, he served as the mayor of Huntsville, Ont. He confirmed he’s building a team and would have more to say soon. Most recently, he has served as the Conservative labour critic.

Leona Alleslev: The former MP for Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill is considering a run. She was defeated in last fall’s federal election. Alleslev joined the Conservatives in 2018, after crossing the floor from the Liberals. Alleslev served as the party’s deputy leader under former leader Andrew Scheer.

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 felt 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.

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

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney: The former MP and high-profile cabinet minister in the Harper government says he’s not interested in going after the party’s top job.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 13, 2022.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

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