Former Conservative leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis has found a riding for the next federal election.

In a statement on Tuesday, Lewis announced that she intends to seek the Conservative Party of Canada’s nomination in the southern Ontario riding of Haldimand—Norfolk at the earliest opportunity.

“Haldimand—Norfolk is a beautiful place with the most amazing, hard-working people,” Lewis said in a statement Tuesday. “It would be an absolute honour to represent them and fight to make their lives better.”

Haldimand—Norfolk is a predominantly rural riding southwest of Hamilton, Ont. The seat has been held by the Conservatives since 2004.

Lewis, a lawyer from the Greater Toronto Area, has never held elected office. In 2015 she ran for the Conservatives in the riding of Scarborough—Rouge Park, coming a distant second to the Liberal candidate.

Lewis placed third in the 2020 Conservative leadership race, though she secured the popular vote in the second round of voting and won around 30 ridings. Numerous analyses of the leadership results show that Lewis’ support was instrumental in delivering the victory to Erin O’Toole.

The statement from Lewis’ campaign didn’t indicate any connections to the riding, though says the candidate “has now begun house hunting in the riding.”

Lewis received over 50% of the leadership vote in Haldimand—Norfolk.

Despite this strong showing, criticisms of parachute candidacy have already been leveled.

“I live in Haldimand—Norfolk and I can tell you this is not going over well here,” one constitutent tweeted. “We want someone local who knows the area as well as our concerns and issues. We want a local person who represents Erin O’Toole’s policies and can explain them to the electorate. He deserves no less.”

Lewis is sure to receive a boost from the endorsement of the riding’s longtime member of parliament, however.

Conservative MP Diane Finley, who has represented the riding since 2004 but recently announced she would not be seeking re-election, said Lewis shares the values of the riding’s residents.

“Leslyn has shown time and again that she is hardworking and passionate, just like the people here in Haldimand—Norfolk,” Finley said. “Not only has she proven with each conversation that she is knowledgeable about the issues that matter most to our community, but the way that she connects with people makes me confident that she would represent us incredibly well.”

The next election is not scheduled until 2023 but historically minorities governments do not last the full four-year session.

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