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CPC Leadership: Who’s in? Who’s out? Who’s thinking about it?

Check back on this page on a daily basis to see who may be the next Conservative leader.

Andrew Scheer announced his resignation as the Conservative Party of Canada leader on December 12, 2019. Since then, there has been a lot of speculation about who’s going to run in the upcoming leadership race.

The committee organizing the Conservative Party’s leadership race has announced that party members will vote for a new leader on June 27.

Party insiders told CBC News that hopeful candidates are expected to pay an entry fee of $300,000 and acquire 3,000 signatures from party members to partake in the contest. 

True North will be keeping track of who’s in, who’s out and who’s thinking about it. Check back on this page on a daily basis to see who may be the next Conservative leader.

Last updated on February 27, 2020.

Officially Running

Marilyn Gladu
Member of Parliament, Sarnia—Lambton

First elected in 2015, Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says she is “ready to lead” and “can bring the party together.” The engineer says she has the money, the support, and the campaign team to win. Gladu touted her business experience and bilingualism as traits that will help her as Conservative leader, should she be successful. In an earlier exchange with The Globe and Mail‘s Marieke Walsh, Gladu “says she’s…pro-choice, would walk in a Pride Parade and won’t fight the carbon tax.”

Jim Karahalios
Lawyer and anti-carbon tax activist

Cambridge, Ont. lawyer Jim Karahalios says he’s seeking the Conservative Party of Canada leadership in spite of rules that favour “establishment candidates” and “career politicians.” Karahalios, whose wife is Ontario PC MPP Belinda Karahalios, ran for the presidency of the Ontario PC party in 2018 but lost to Brian Patterson. He’s since launched a lawsuit against the PCs, alleging ‘ballot stuffing’ cost him the race.

Leslyn Lewis
Former Conservative candidate

Leslyn Lewis was the Conservative candidate in 2015 for the riding of Scarborough–Rouge Park. She lost in 2015 but remained active in conservative circles. Lewis is a lawyer, the vice-chair of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the chair of Ontario Youth Fund. She has announced a run for the Conservative leadership, pledging to do away with divisive identity politics and fight for a Conservative party that is inclusive of people with varying views of what the conservative movement is about.

Peter MacKay
Former attorney general

The former Harper cabinet Minister and final leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada is in. Peter MacKay is expected to make an official announcement soon. Peter MacKay was touted as a possible replacement for Andrew Scheer even before Scheer resigned as leader. MacKay had openly criticized the Conservative campaign in the days following the election.

Erin O’Toole
Conservative foreign affairs critic and former veterans affairs minister

Erin O’Toole finished in third place when he ran for Conservative leader in 2017, getting eliminated in the 12th round with 21.26 per cent of the vote. Nevertheless, he was the caucus favourite in that leadership race with more endorsements from sitting Conservative members of parliament than any other candidate. According to media reports, O’Toole has signalled to conservatives at a Toronto Christmas party that he’ll be running.

Rick Peterson
Businessman and former Conservative leadership candidate

Alberta venture capitalist Rick Peterson told The Post Millennial he’ll be taking another run at the Conservative leadership. In 2017, Peterson was eliminated in the third round of counting with 0.67 per cent of the vote. He later ran for the Conservative nomination to replace Rona Ambrose, but lost out to Dane Lloyd, who was later elected to parliament. Peterson is a solid fiscal conservative who in his last campaign pledged to end corporate taxes and kill the carbon tax.

Derek Sloan
Hastings—Lennox and Addington member of parliament

Rookie Conservative member of parliament Derek Sloan has announced he’ll be seeking his party’s leadership based on a simple premise: “It’s time to stop being afraid to be conservative.” The lawyer announced his campaign in a brief Twitter video, promising a platform in the days ahead.

Running

Richard Décarie
Former deputy chief of staff to Stephen Harper as opposition leader

Entrepreneur and Quebec political organizer Richard Décarie says he’s a “True Blue, full spectrum conservative.” He worked for the Office of the Leader of the Opposition when Stephen Harper was leader of the Canadian Alliance, and then the Conservative Party of Canada. He also was the chief Quebec organizer for Harper’s 2004 CPC leadership campaign. Décarie, a Catholic who lives in Montreal, has worked in the non-profit sector in addition to his political work.

Irvin Studin
Professor and former soccer player

Professor and former soccer player Irvin Studin is seeking the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Studin announced his “last minute” campaign with little fanfare on Twitter one day before the application cut-off, saying he was motivated by the “growing crises enveloping our country and the patent lack of national leadership, vision and direction.”

Bobby Singh
Former Conservative candidate

After falling short of unseating Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree in last year’s federal election, former Scarborough—Rouge Park Conservative candidate Bobby Singh says it’s time to bring a “refresh” to the Conservative Party of Canada. Singh, a self-styled entrepreneur and academic, says the party under his leadership would be “blue done right.”

Rudy Husny
Former political staffer

After several years working for Conservative politicians and two attempts at getting elected as a member of parliament in Montreal, Rudy Husny is running for the Conservative leadership. The Quebecer worked with former trade minister Ed Fast, and more recently in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition under Andrew Scheer.

Considering

Michelle Rempel Garner
Conservative industry critic and former western economic diversification minister

Michelle Rempel Garner, the outspoken member of the Conservative caucus and former cabinet minister, was coy when asked on CTV’s Question Period whether she’d be seeking the leadership of the Conservative party. Rempel Garner said she hopes strong candidates – herself included – “take time to reflect,” saying that no one should be “self-de-selecting at this point.”

Michael Chong
Member of Parliament, Wellington—Halton Hills

During the 2017 Conservative leadership race, Michael Chong was the only candidate to support a carbon tax. The former intergovernmental affairs minister concedes his carbon tax push did not go over well with the members, but is still considering another bid to be Conservative leader. Chong was also one of two Conservative MPs to support the anti-Islamophobia motion M-103. In 2017, he came in fifth place and was eliminated in Round 10 of counting with 9.14 per cent of the vote.

Michael Fortier
Former senator and cabinet minister

Former trade minister Michael Fortier is considering getting back into politics, telling The Hill Times he’s “looking very seriously” at a run for the Conservative leadership. Fortier was appointed by Stephen Harper from outside the government, but was, weeks later, appointed to the Senate. Fortier resigned from the Senate in 2008 to run for a House of Commons seat in that year’s election, but he was unsuccessful.

Not Running

Rona Ambrose
Former interim Conservative leader

Former Harper cabinet minister and interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is officially out. Despite much speculation, and endorsements from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, Ambrose chose to remain in the private sector for the time being.

John Baird
Former foreign affairs minister

Former cabinet minister John Baird led the investigation into what went wrong in the Conservative party’s 2019 campaign, and now reports say he may be vying to replace Andrew Scheer. Baird was mulling a bid and had assembled a campaign team but ultimately decided not to run.

John Williamson
Member of Parliament, New Brunswick Southwest

Second term New Brunswick Conservative member of parliament John Williamson said he was testing the waters to seek the leadership as a “movement Conservative,” noting that Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole as more aligned with the red Tory wing of the party. Williamson, who lost his seat in 2015 but won it back in 2019, says blue Tories need a voice in the leadership race. Though he decided in February that voice wouldn’t be him this time around, and bowed out of the contest.

Vincenzo Guzzo
Dragons’ Den star and businessman

Investor and businessman Vincenzo Guzzo, who runs Quebec’s large Cinéma Guzzo chain, was campaigning for the Conservative leadership, but said in a statement published on the deadline day that even though he was able to exceed the Conservative Party of Canada’s entry criteria, there wasn’t enough time for him to transition out of his business dealings and contractual obligations for him to proceed with a leadership bid.

Rod Phillips
Ontario finance minister

The Toronto Star’s Robert Benzie said that Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips was “considering a run” for the federal Conservative leadership, but this was quickly debunked as Phillips said while he was “flattered” by the suggestion he has “no intention” of running as he focuses on Ontario’s fiscal situation and the upcoming budget.

Pierre Poilievre
Conservative finance critic and former employment minister

Despite weeks of speculation that Poilievre was running, the Ottawa MP announced on Twitter that he was not running.

“Over the last several weeks, I have been building a team and support for a possible run for the conservative (sic) leadership. In criss-crossing the country, I have been overwhelmed with the favourable response,” tweeted Poilievre. 

Citing strain on his family life, he went on to say “…my heart is not fully engaged in this leadership race. Without being all in, I cannot be in at all. So I have decided not to seek the leadership of the party at this time.”

Candice Bergen
Conservative house leader and former social development minister

Although a National Post article revealed Bergen was not ruling out a run for CPC leader after both Rona Ambrose and Pierre Poilievre announced they weren’t running, Bergen clarified on Twitter she was not interested in the job.

Bryan Brulotte
CEO, MaxSys Staffing and Consulting

First in and first out. Former political organizer Bryan Brulotte said he was “fully committed to running” for the Conservative leadership, though pulled out of the race just days after getting into it. Brulotte worked as a deputy chief of chief to a minister in Kim Campbell’s government and ran for the federal Progressive Conservatives in the 2000 election. Brulotte threw his support behind Peter MacKay.

Lisa Raitt
Former deputy Conservative leader and transport minister

When Lisa Raitt was asked whether she planned to seek the Conservative leadership by Evan Solomon, there was no wavering. “I’m out,” she said. Raitt, who served as deputy Conservative leader until the most recent election, said things are different for her living outside the parliamentary precinct. She said it’s not her time, but noted that she’ll “observe from the sidelines and comment frequently.”

Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario

One of the most prominent voices calling for Andrew Scheer’s resignation was Kory Teneycke, who last year managed the campaign that elected Doug Ford as Ontario’s premier. Though don’t take from this that Ford might be looking to jump up to the federal arena so soon after taking the reins of Ontario’s government. Ford’s spokesperson told a Durham radio station that Ford is focused squarely on the province and won’t be running for the federal Conservative leadership.

W. Brett Wilson
Businessman

Investor and former Dragons’ Den star has become a Twitter star for his no-nonsense criticism of Justin Trudeau and other anti-energy policies. Despite a burgeoning campaign on Twitter to draft Wilson into politics, he tells True North he’s not interested in the job.

Jason Kenney
Premier of Alberta

At one point considered to be the heir apparent to Stephen Harper as Conservative leader, Jason Kenney is now working away as Alberta’s premier. He told Peter Braid of the Calgary Herald that he is staying put, offering his support instead to Rona Ambrose should she decide to run.

Brad Trost
Former member of parliament, Saskatoon—University

Prominent social conservative Brad Trost came in fourth place in the 2017 Conservative leadership race, eliminated in Round 11 with 14.30 per cent of the vote. Trost told True North he won’t be running, though qualified it by saying he didn’t think he was going to be running last time, so take it with a grain of salt. Trost previously introduced a private member’s bill to privatize the CBC, and once described himself as being on the conservative side of the conservative wing of the Conservative party. He didn’t run in the 2019 election, losing his party’s nomination to Corey Tochor, who won as a Conservative.

Maxime Bernier
Leader, People’s Party of Canada

The People’s Party of Canada leader and 2017 Conservative leadership runner-up is clear: he will not be taking another shot at leading the party under which he served as a member of parliament for 12 years. Shortly after Scheer resigned, Bernier reiterated his belief that the CPC “is morally and intellectually corrupt,” and said the next leader will push the party to the centre, as he claims Scheer did.

Kevin O’Leary
Businessman

It looked as though Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary might actually win the 2017 Conservative leadership before he abruptly withdrew from the race and endorsed Maxime Bernier. O’Leary is ruling out another run, saying that the political finance rules are too restrictive to outsider campaigns. He’s still in debt from his 2017 leadership race because he’s not allowed to pay it off himself. He told True North he will “rethink” a leadership run if he’s successful in his April court challenge against Elections Canada.

Brad Wall
Former premier of Saskatchewan

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall fought the carbon tax and is a star among the Canadian right. He’s been unequivocal, however, that he will not be seeking the Conservative party’s leadership. He has thrown his support behind Rona Ambrose, should she run.

Bernard Lord
Former premier of New Brunswick

Former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord will not be seeking the Conservative party’s leadership. Lord governed New Brunswick from 1999 to 2006 and now serves as president and CEO of an insurance and health services company. While he reportedly took stock of whether he’d have support were he to enter the race, he opted out of running.

Christy Clark
Former British Columbia premier

In a CBC interview, former BC premier Christy Clark didn’t explicitly say “no” when asked if she had Conservative leadership ambitions, but did say she wasn’t thinking about it with her son home from university and the holidays afoot. We’re prepared to call this one a “not running” for now.

Patrick Brown
Mayor of Brampton and former PC Party of Ontario leader

Brampton mayor Patrick Brown says he has no interest in a return to federal politics. The former member of parliament, who left federal politics to lead the Ontario PCs, is “happy” with his life in Brampton, where he can focus on non-partisan municipal politics and his wife and young son.

Caroline Mulroney
Ontario transportation minister

Ontario cabinet minister Caroline Mulroney has unequivocally ruled out a federal leadership run. The first-term MPP sought the leadership of Ontario’s PCs in 2018, where she placed third after Doug Ford and Christine Elliott.

Jean Charest
Former Quebec premier and PC Party of Canada leader

It’s been 21 years since Jean Charest stepped down as leader of the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, it sounded as though a Conservative leadership bid was a certainty. After reports that he’d be announcing sometime in January, Jean Charest instead decided not to run. Earlier, Maclean’s reported that Stephen Harper’s decision to leave the Conservative fund was motivated by his desire to actively block a Charest leadership.

No Word Yet

James Moore
Former industry minister

Stephen Harper
Former prime minister

Pierre Lemieux
Former member of parliament, Glengarry—Prescott—Russell

Kellie Leitch
Former labour minister

Leona Alleslev
Deputy Conservative leader

Steven Blaney
Conservative heritage critic and former public safety minister

Chris Alexander
Former immigration minister

Andrew Saxton
Former member of parliament, North Vancouver

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