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Conservative leadership race to kick off Monday as party sets rules

The race for leadership of the federal Conservatives begins officially on Monday.

The party released the rules for the contest late Saturday, and candidates have just over two months to pull together $300,000 and get 3,000 signatures in order to have their names on the ballot.

“This is going to be an exciting and competitive contest that shows Canadians how Conservatives are ready to do the hard work that comes with being a government in waiting,” said Lisa Raitt, a former MP who is the co-chair of the leadership organizing committee, in a statement released Saturday night.

Both the financial requirements and the need to have 3,000 signatures must be met in stages.

By Feb. 27, candidates will have to pay $25,000 and have the signatures of 1,000 members from 30 different ridings in seven different provinces or territories.

After that, they’ll have until March 25 to fulfil the remaining financial and other obligations. The fee itself is in two parts — a non-refundable $200,000, and a $100,000 deposit candidates will get back if they follow all the rules.

Scheer resignation

The leadership race had begun unofficially in mid-December, when current leader Andrew Scheer announced he’d quit as soon as his replacement was chosen.

He linked his decision to the increasing pressures the role was placing on his family, but it came after weeks of intense criticism of the Conservatives’ performance in the 2019 election campaign, and his own performance in particular.

There are also lingering questions about how he was spending party money given to him to help with the costs of being leader, including whether he should or shouldn’t have been allocated funds toward tuition for his children’s private school. Scheer has yet to publicly address that issue.

Those likely to enter the contest include current MPs Pierre Poilievre and Erin O’Toole, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and former Quebec premier Jean Charest.

Whoever wins the 2020 race will be just the fourth party leader since the Conservative party was revamped after a merger between the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives.

The first was Stephen Harper, who ran the party from 2004 to 2015. He resigned after losing government in the 2015 election.

Afterwards, Rona Ambrose was chosen to be the interim chief by the party’s MPs and senators.

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer is applauded by caucus members as he announces he will step down as leader of the Conservatives, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in the House of Commons in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

In 2017, Scheer won the party leadership race after 13 rounds of voting, beating out former Quebec Conservative MP Maxime Bernier by an exceptionally slim margin. That campaign took place over nearly a year-and-a-half.

With Scheer’s resignation and the fact there’s currently a minority Liberal government,a lot of pressure was placed on the party to mount a much speedier process this time around.

The race is a process designed to test the organizational abilities of the party’s next leader, said Dan Nowlan, the other co-chair of the organization committee.

“It’s not only your ability to fundraise, but more importantly your ability to inspire Canadians to join our party, and to do so under tight timelines similar to the pressures of an election,” he said in a statement.

The Conservatives will elect their next leader at a convention on June 27 in Toronto.

To vote in the election, members will have to sign up by April 17.

Potential candidate list

Here is a list of people, in alphabetical order, who are considering making a run.

  • Rona Ambrose: Former interim leader of the Conservative Party and former MP for the Edmonton-area riding of Sturgeon River-Parkland.
  • Bryan Brulotte: Businessman and one-time Progressive Conservative candidate from Chelsea, Que.
  • Jean Charest: Former Liberal premier of Quebec, Progressive Conservative party leader and federal cabinet minister.
  • Michael Chong: Former Conservative cabinet minister, current MP for Ontario riding of Wellington-Halton Hills. Ran in the 2017 race.
  • Gerard Deltell: Current Conservative MP for the Quebec riding of Louis-Saint-Laurent and former provincial MNA.
  • Richard Décarie: Political aide under former Conservative leader Stephen Harper while in opposition, helped run Harper’s Quebec operations.
  • Michael Fortier: Former Conservative senator from Quebec who also served as a cabinet minister in the Conservative government.
  • Michelle Rempel Garner: Current Conservative MP for the riding of Calgary Nose Hill.
  • Marilyn Gladu: Current Conservative MP for Ontario riding of Sarnia-Lambton.
  • Vincent Guzzo: Movie theatre mogul from Quebec who also stars in the reality TV program Dragons’ Den.
  • Rudy Husny: Longtime Quebec political operative for the Conservative party.
  • Peter MacKay: Former Conservative cabinet minister and longtime MP from Nova Scotia, who currently lives in Toronto.
  • Erin O’Toole: Former Conservative cabinet minister and current MP from the Toronto-area riding of Durham. Ran in the 2017 race.
  • Pierre Poilievre: Former Conservative cabinet minister and current MP from the Ottawa-area riding of Carleton.
  • Aron Seal: Former director of policy for two Conservative cabinet ministers.

CBC

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