Last updated on March 20, 2020.
The deadline to enter the Conservative Party of Canada’s 2020 leadership race to replace Andrew Scheer was 11:59pm on February 27, 2020. Below is the final list of candidates in the running for the top job, as well as those who were potential contenders but decided not to run.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Businessman and former Conservative leadership candidate
Alberta venture capitalist Rick Peterson was eliminated in the third round of counting with 0.67 per cent of the vote in the 2017 leadership race. 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. Peterson was approved as an applicant but withdrew ahead of the Conservative party’s March 25 deadline for submitting signatures and money, citing cancelation of fundraising and member drive events due to COVID-19.
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.” Nevertheless, the Conservative Party of Canada rejected his application to be a leadership candidate. While the party was tight-lipped on the reason, Décarie made waves earlier in the campaign after a CTV interview in which he indicated he views homosexuality as a choice. Décarie 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.
Former immigration minister
Former diplomat-turned-cabinet minister Chris Alexander ran a solid policy campaign in 2017, but fell short on votes. He didn’t try again in 2020.
Deputy Conservative leader
The Liberal MP who crossed the floor to the Conservatives and ultimately was named deputy leader by Andrew Scheer decided not to run to succeed Scheer as leader.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Conservative heritage critic and former public safety minister
Former public safety minister Steven Blaney ran as the anti-Maxime Bernier in the 2017 Conservative leadership – vocally defending the supply management regime that Bernier sought to tear up. He did not seek the Conservative leadership in 2020.
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.
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.
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.
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 member. While he considered another leadership bid, Chong ultimately decided not to run.
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.
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.
Former senator and cabinet minister
Former trade minister Michael Fortier told The Hill Times he was “looking very seriously” at a run for the Conservative leadership, but ultimately didn’t mobilize a campaign. 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.
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.
Former prime minister
Despite “I miss Harper” passing the lips of most Canadian conservatives at some point or another, former prime minister Stephen Harper did not jump back in to salvage the party he founded.
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.
Former labour minister
Physician and former cabinet minister Kellie Leitch ran a rocky campaign for leadership in 2017. She didn’t run again in 2020.
Former member of parliament, Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Former member of parliament Pierre Lemieux ran in the 2017 Conservative leadership race, but did not take another run this cycle.
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.
Former industry minister
As a prominent former Conservative cabinet minister, James Moore was a rumoured contender but did not run.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.” Rempel Garner did not ultimately mobilize a campaign.
Former member of parliament, North Vancouver
Andrew Saxton ran an unconventional campaign as a proudly self-professed “boring” candidate in the 2017 Conservative leadership race. He attempted to win back his North Vancouver seat in the 2019 federal election, and ultimately didn’t make another attempt at running for the Conservative leadership.
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.” Singh did not submit a formal application to the Conservative party.
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.” Studin failed to secure the necessary 1,000 signatures to be approved as a Conservative leadership candidate.
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.
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.
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.
W. Brett Wilson
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.