The rules under which the next Conservative leader will be selected have not yet been decided, but leadership hopefuls now know the date on which they would ascend to the post if they ultimately decide to run and win. The Conservative Party’s Leadership Election Organizing Committee announced that the convention will be held May 27, 2017, more than 16 months after the announcement was made. Only party members will be allowed to cast a vote for leader and if past leadership contests are any indication, members will vote in their home ridings and points will be allocated on a riding-by-riding basis, but the specifics will not be made public for several more months.

Also, membership for the Conservative Party has increased from $15 to $25 for a one-year membership, although there are discounted fee schedules for two years ($30), three years ($45) and five years ($60).

Campaign Life Coalition is urging supporters to get involved, noting that the Conservatives are the only party in Parliament that permits its candidates for MP to vote their conscience. CLC’s Jeff Gunnarson said that people should hold off buying a membership until May or June or buy a multi-year membership to ensure that they can vote for leadership depending when the cut-off period for voting eligibility ends. Gunnarson told The Interim that he is hopeful there will be a pro-life candidate that pro-family supporters can rally around.


There have been numerous names mentioned in the media as leadership hopefuls, but the only candidates to openly express their interest are MPs Kelli Leitch ((Simcoe-Grey), Tony Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka), and Maxime Bernier (Beauce).

Clement is rated pro-abortion by CLC. In 2012 he voted against M-312, which, if passed, would have required Parliament to study Canada’s 400-year-old definition of a human being, and in 2010 he voted against C-510, which, if passed, would have protected pregnant women from coercive abortion. As the party’s current global affairs critic, he has called on the Trudeau government to prioritize protecting the rights of homosexuals in foreign countries.

Bernier is also rated pro-abortion by CLC, having voted against M-312 and C-510.

Both Clement and Bernier have pro-family voting records and voted against C-384 in 2010, a private member’s bill to legalize euthanasia and assisted-suicide.

Leitch is given a yellow light from CLC, denoting she may be educable. Although she voted against M-312 – the only pro-life vote since Leitch was first elected in 2011 – and has not answered a CLC questionnaire, she told an all-candidates meeting on Sept. 30, 2015 that she is pro-life based on her experience as a pediatric surgeon. Gunnarson told The Interim CLC will need to see more from the potential leadership hopeful, but said that her willingness to claim the pro-life mantle publicly suggests Leitch may have changed her mind since the M-312 vote or succumbed to political pressure when she opposed the motion. CLC’s website notes in their profile of the MP, she also marched in Toronto’s Pride Parade in June 2015 along with Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown under the banner of LGBT Tories.

Television personality and investor Kevin O’Leary, former star of the CBC’s “Dragon’s Den” program, expressed interest in the leadership after he publicly lambasted Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley for her handling of the economy, but many pundits are expressing skepticism of his intentions, saying it might just be a publicity gimmick. His views on social issues are not known but is seen as more libertarian.

Former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford has mused about running. While former mayor Rob Ford did not take part in the city’s Pride Parade, Ford supported the annual gay event and donated to it.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and former federal defense and justice minister Peter MacKay have suggested they are not interested in the job, with Wall saying he “is running for premier of Saskatchewan” this April and MacKay becoming a law partner in the Toronto law firm Baker and Mackenzie. Neither job, however, precludes either man from joining the race to lead the federal Tories.

In a letter to Campaign Life Coalition in response to the group’s questionnaire ahead of the province’s provincial election in April, Wall said he is “personally pro-life” but added there is little he can do about abortion because he claimed the province’s hands were tied by federal requirements that abortion be provided. Campaign Life Coalition notes that the Canada Health Act does not state what medical procedures must be provided by the provinces. CLC’s Gunnarson said Wall might be educable, noting his faith-filled Christmas message, previous speeches on family, and the premier’s stated personal pro-life convictions.

MacKay was a social liberal when he was an MP, but voted with the party on several pro-family pieces of legislation when the government backed a bill. He did not run for re-election last year.

Others reportedly interested in the party’s leadership include current MPs, former immigration and defense minister Jason Kenney (Calgary Midnapore), former labour minister Lisa Raitt (Milton), Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills) and Michelle Rempel (Calgary-Nose Hill).

Kenney has a green light from CLC because of his pro-life and pro-family voting record. Raitt has been given a red light because of her many votes against life and family.

Kenney is also reported to be interested in running to reunite the right in Alberta where vote-splitting between the provincial PCs and Wildrose parties allowed the NDP to form government last May.

Chong and Rempel have mixed voting records but were ultimately given a red light from CLC because they voted against M-312. They both also voted for Bill C-279, the so-called Bathroom Bill which would have added “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Human Rights Act and Criminal Code.

Interim leader Rona Ambrose is prohibited by party rules from running for the permanent position, but the delegates could change its constitution at the Conservative policy convention in Vancouver this May. Delegates for the policy convention, which some insiders are predicting will be the formal launch of the leadership race, are being chosen now through early March at delegate selection meetings in each riding. CLC has been encouraging supporters to attend meetings to support pro-life delegates or to put their own name forward as a delegate.

Ambrose has a perfect pro-life and pro-family voting record, although she did not vote on C-510, the anti-coercive abortion bill. As minister for status of women she supported M-312, saying she had concerns about gendercide abortions and wanted the scientific and medical aspects of preborn life studied. She was pilloried by feminists for her vote who launched a petition that she be removed as minister for women’s issues, but she did not back down. However, last year when Ambrose served as health minister, Health Canada permitted import of the abortion pill Mifegymiso and allowed its use on pregnant women for the first seven weeks gestation. Ambrose maintained it was a bureaucratic, not political decision.

CLC national president Jim Hughes told The Interim that he hopes pro-lifers “don’t have to settle for the least bad option” in the Tory leadership race. “I would love to see all the parties led by someone unafraid to articulate their pro-life convictions,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see if someone comes forward to give pro-lifers a voice in the leadership race.”