When The Interim went to press there were four registered candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada leadership, four declared candidates who had yet to enter, and a handful of candidates rumoured or publicly pondering whether to run.
Four sitting MPs and former Harper-era cabinet ministers are registered to run for leader: Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong, Tony Clement, and Kellie Leitch. Bernier and Clement have “red light” ratings from Campaign Life Coalition because of their anti-life and anti-family voting record. Chong and Leitch are have a “yellow light” because of the mixed signals they have sent on their votes and public statements. All four have voted against M-312, the 2012 motion from Stephen Woodworth that sought to examine the status of prenatal human life.
Of the four declared candidates, two are pro-life: Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux. Both receive a “green light” from CLC for their perfect voting records and both are regular speakers at the National March for Life.
Trost, who is in Mongolia with his wife and daughter, tells journalists through his spokesman, he is “100 per cent pure conservative” and that the party needs an unabashed fiscal and social conservative leader.
According to the National Post, Lemieux, a three-term MP defeated last October, is seeking support based on his pro-life stance and defence of marriage. According to the Post, a document called “Pierre Lemieux Leadership” sent to his supporters in the Ottawa area points out that “Pierre is pro-life and believes in the sanctity of life from conception through to natural death. Pierre supports the traditional definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.”
CLC national president Jim Hughes told The Interim that Campaign Life Coalition identifies Lemieux and Trost as supportable candidates. “Pierre Lemieux is a man of integrity who has represented his riding very well. I have no doubt his qualities, convictions and platform will broaden the debate, not narrow it,” Johanne Brownrigg, CLC’s Ottawa lobbyist, told LifeSiteNews.
MP Deepak Obhrai has a mixed voting record and thus a “yellow light.” Communications consultant Adrienne Snow, who worked for two socially conservative think tanks in the 1990s – the National Foundation for Family Research and Education and the Centre for the Study of Civic Renewal – is personally opposed to abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex “marriage” but considers them all “settled” issues. Hughes said Snow is “unsupportable based on her comments to the media” following revelations that she is considering running.
Former defense and justice minister Peter MacKay, a Red Tory and social liberal, is mulling a leadership bid although political insiders increasingly doubt he will throw his hat into the ring. Businessman and reality TV show star Kevin O’Leary, says he is considering running but he also just renewed his contract with the American television program “Shark Tank” for two years and is said to loathe the idea of taking a pay cut in order to run for political office. O’Leary supports same-sex “marriage” and euthanasia and counsels the Conservatives to keep away from social issues.
Four other former cabinet ministers are also reportedly considering running for leadership: Steven Blaney, Chris Alexander, Erin O’Toole, and Lisa Raitt. All have red lights from CLC. Former MP Andrew Saxton, who was defeated in last October’s election, has said he is considering running. He has a yellow light after voting for various pro-family bills but opposing M-312.
Former Speaker of the House and current Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer is also said to be considering a run for leader. He has a perfect pro-life and pro-family voting record according to CLC. Scheer voted for all nine bills and motions before the House when he was an MP from 2004 to 2011, but he had to abstain from voting when he became Speaker in 2011.
Hughes explained that with the ranked ballot used in the leadership race, in which Conservative members can rank their top two choices, pro-life Tory supporters can back more than one pro-life candidate. He encouraged socially conservative Canadians to renew or purchase a membership through the candidate’s websites, see how the race plays out, and back up to two candidates in the leadership election next May. “Pro-life Conservatives might be lucky enough to have three or more candidates to choose from next year. We’ll be looking to see who stands out as the most outspoken and principled pro-life and pro-family leader within the party,” although he pointed out if the past is any indication CLC will inform supporters of the positions of candidates without formally endorsing a favourite, merely “reminding pro-lifers which candidates share their values.”
Candidates must register by Feb. 24, 2017 to be on the leadership ballot. The membership deadline in order to vote is March 28. Voting for leadership will take place May 27 in the members’ riding.