The Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) leadership race is in full stride with no individual candidate separating her/himself from the pack, leaving the contest wide open. As might be expected, the field has been drawn from among current and former caucus members and a non-politician “outsider,” giving CPC members a wide range of political views to choose from.
The already crowded field will likely be augmented soon by another candidate, the well-known businessman and TV celebrity Kevin O’Leary, bringing the total number of candidates to 14, namely: Chris Alexander, Maxime Bernier, Steven Blaney, Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Pierre Lemieux, Deepak Obhrai, Erin O’Toole, Rick Peterson, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Saxton, Andrew Scheer, Brad Trost and Kevin O’Leary.
Unfortunately—at least from my viewpoint—current interim leader, Rona Ambrose, MP for Sturgeon River-Parkland is not in the race, which will conclude with the leadership election on May 27, 2017.
When this field will begin to be winnowed out is anybody’s guess, but until then we are fortunate to have the opportunity to debate the many different approaches to how a future Conservative leader might govern the country.
According to an early December 2016 Forum Research poll, Michael Chong led with the support of 10% of respondents representing all Canadians, followed by Lisa Raitt (8%), Kellie Leitch (7%), Chris Alexander (6%), Maxime Bernier (5%), Steve Blaney (5%), Andrew Scheer (3%) and Brad Trost (2%), with other candidates excluded from the survey for brevity.
Among Conservative voters, however, none of the candidates scored more than 9% cent support, while 48% said they preferred “someone else.” Conservative respondents chose Chris Alexander (8%), Steve Blaney (9%), Michael Chong (8%) and Lisa Raitt (8%) in a virtual tie for first place.
I believe that the ones who will be in the running with a reasonable good chance of winning on May 27 are: Chris Alexander, Maxime Bernier, Steven Blaney, Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer and Kevin O’Leary.
Of these, I could see myself voting for any of (no particular order of preference): Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer or Kevin O’Leary.
If the leadership election were held today, my vote would go to Maxine Bernier. Maxine is youthful, presents well and is receiving enough caucus support and endorsements to be a credible candidate. Furthermore, the MP for Beauce, Quebec has the most extensive, thoughtful and conservative platform—check it out.
My second choice—although it is still early times—is MP Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle), the former Speaker of the House of Commons who enjoys very strong caucus support and endorsements, an important element of any leadership bid. Mr. Scheer may well move up on my ballot after he releases more specific policies—and here’s hoping he’ll do that soon.
My third ballot choice is a toss-up between Michael Chong and Kevin O’Leary, should the latter enter the race as expected. At this point, however, I’m pretty lukewarm on both.