The race is on, sort of, for the Conservative Party leadership and now we have two candidates in and can also put to rest the idea of Brad Wall and Stephen Harper eventually entering, ideas that have been floating out there.
Brad Wall isn’t leaving Saskatchewan having just won a third term as premier, and Stephen Harper isn’t plotting a comeback. I had hoped to see Wall bring his sunny brand of conservative politics to Ottawa but those who know him say his heart is in the prairies and I don’t see Harper coming back any time soon so let’s talk about who is in.
Kellie Leitch announced an exploratory committee, filed her paperwork and put down the $50,000 fee. There’s no campaign website, no social media presence and she isn’t doing media but we’ll see if she opens up a full campaign later.
The other is Maxime Bernier who says key ideas for him are personal freedom and personal responsibility. He wants smaller government and says he can sell that message inside and outside of his home province of Quebec.
He’s been traveling the country speaking to Conservative groups and Leitch has done some of the same, speaking to key party people, visiting some 70 ridings ahead of and during the last election to help other candidates campaign or fundraise.
Unlike south of the border where winning primaries is often about a popular vote with people who aren’t party members, in the Conservative leadership race voting is restricted to paid-up party members. It’s more important to be popular with the grassroots than with the general public or media.
Tony Clement, Michael Chong, Lisa Raitt are all mulling it over. There are big names that won’t commit – Peter Mackay, Jason Kenney, even TV star and business mogul Kevin O’Leary.
Voting day is over a year away in May 2017 but the deadline to join to cast a vote is closer. Anyone wanting to help choose the next party leader has to join and register by March 28, 2017, two months before the vote.
I won’t endorse a candidate at this point but if you want a say in who the next party leader will be, then join and pay your $25 to get registered to vote.
It will be an interesting time and is your chance to help shape the future of the conservative movement in Canada.