Pro-life MP Brad Trost (Saskatoon-University) told LifeSiteNews that he is “strongly exploring” running for the Conservative leadership. The five-term MP is ascertaining his ability to “put together a professional campaign” before committing, signaling that he is running to win and not merely raise his profile or raise certain issues.
Trost was first mentioned as a possible successor to Stephen Harper after the Vancouver policy convention when he vocally opposed the party’s decision to remove its former policy of recognizing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
A German Baptist Mennonite, Trost has been an outspoken defender of life and family. According to Campaign Life Coalition, he has a perfect record since first being elected to Parliament in 2004. He voted pro-life and pro-family all 13 times the issues have come before the House of Commons since he was first elected. He has spoken at the National March for Life, bringing his family on stage as he thanks the pro-life movement for their continued witness. This spring he opposed the government’s assisted-suicide bill, C-14, and announced he would introduce a private member’s bill protecting the conscience rights of health care workers.
As MP he would criticize his own Conservative government, including decisions to fund gay pride parades and the International Planned Parenthood Federation. He was also a critic of the control that the Prime Minister’s Office exercised over the Tory caucus.
Trost told LifeSiteNews that the decision at the Vancouver convention to drop the party’s marriage policy led him to seriously consider running for leadership. It’s not that there is “no one else in caucus who shares my beliefs,” he explained, but “there aren’t a lot of people who are prepared to stand up.” Trost added, “Look, I understand, sometimes you lose political battles; you can’t fight them over and over again, but I’m not the sort of person who believes that you just shrug your shoulders about fundamental principles, and I think that says it all.”
Despite the importance of social issues, he denies being a single-issue candidate. “People want to know that you can talk about the economy, answer questions about foreign policy, deal with other issues too,” he said. “I’m not changing my views, but I’m prepared to deal with all issues.”
Trost describes himself as a “full-spectrum Conservative,” whose pro-life and pro-family convictions are inseparable from his views on “the purpose of government.” He explained, “you have two basic options when it comes to taking care of the family: you have the state, or you have the family itself when dealing with their social needs in society.”
Former Speaker of the House, Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle) is also being mentioned as a possible leadership contender. Scheer, like Trost, also represents a Saskatchewan riding and was first elected in 2004. Because he sat in the Speaker’s chair during the Conservative majority, Scheer was only present for ten votes that CLC rated, and he, too, had a perfect record on life and family issues. If anything separates the two, Scheer told the media in Vancouver that he favoured the proposal to scrap the language on traditional marriage.
Scheer has not talked to the media about any bid for the leadership, but past interviews suggest he puts faith and family at the center of his life. Scheer and his wife Jill have five children and in 2009 he told The Interim that staff know not to book events on Sunday so he can attend Mass and spend the day with his family.
As of mid-July, there were four declared leadership candidates: former cabinet ministers Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, and Tony Clement, and MP Michael Chong (Halton), who has made democratic reform his cause since returning to the party’s backbenches in 2009.
Others reportedly considering joining the Conservative leadership contest include former defense minister Peter MacKay, former labour minister Lisa Raitt, and businessman and reality TV star Kevin O’Leary.
CLC rates Bernier, Clement, Leitch, MacKay, and Raitt as pro-abortion, and says they do not have enough information about Chong to give him a rating. O’Leary has said the Conservatives should stay clear of moral issues and told Conservative convention delegates in May that he is “very liberal” on social issues, supporting decriminalizing marijuana and permitting euthanasia. He went as far as saying “if you want to marry a goat” you should, as a way to reinforce his social liberalism.
Campaign Life Coalition’s Jim Hughes said that the Conservative leadership format could benefit social conservatives, even if two of them run. The Tories are using a ranked ballot where members can vote for their first and second choices. Hughes told The Interim, “if two candidates can both sign up supporters and then be convinced to back each other, the social conservative vote in the leadership contest could help put one of them over-the-top.”
CLC is urging supporters to take out a membership this summer to participate in next spring’s leadership vote. Voting will be done in the ridings as the convention in May is merely announcing the winner.