We could have our first contender for the Conservative leadership race on Friday.
Kellie Lietch, MP for Simcoe-Grey, since 2011, Minister of Labour and Minister for the Status of Women, is set to announce Friday according to sources I’ve been speaking with.
Leitch is decidedly on the Red Tory side of the party, she has a long history in Ontario PC politics but interestingly came out during this last election as being pro-life, something many politicians, even Conservative ones are loathe to do.
In announcing her pro-life views at an all-candidates meeting during the election campaign Leitch said, “A big part of that is because I spent a significant part of my professional career taking care of disabled kids — children that have reached amazing potentials because they were born.”
Does Leitch have the profile and clout to become leader?
That is debateable but a few points.
In announcing early Leitch would gain some advantage over other leadership hopefuls by gaining media attention.
Secondly, Leitch was building favours during the campaign. She travelled to several ridings to campaign for other candidates and according to my sources some of those trips may have been her campaigning on her own dime, putting down markers, favours to call in at a later date.
Other contenders are considering or counting themselves out. Despite my strong encouragement it appears Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is ruling himself out telling media that he doesn’t want the job. He is also facing a provincial election in the spring and quitting now to run to become federal opposition leader would leave his Saskatchewan Party in the lurch.
Jason Kenney who has held cabinet positions at Defence, Immigration, Employment and Multiculturalism is considering a run though I’m told he is not ready to jump in yet, taking time to consider if he is ready for what could be a four to eight year haul as opposition leader.
And Peter MacKay, newly retired from politics to spend time with his young and growing family is said to be seriously considering a run and is being strongly encouraged to run by the PC faction of the Conservative Party. MacKay, like Kenney, not ready to jump in yet, he will take time.
The Conservative Party has yet to set the rules for a leadership race or a timeline. Currently the party has a convention scheduled for May in Vancouver, that convention could become a leadership convention or it could be pushed back. Talks are currently happening to determine what the best process is for the party. Whatever the decision the party doesn’t have to rush, the next election is scheduled for October 21, 2019.
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