Saturday, January 14, 2017

Conservative party leadership: If not Maxime Bernier then Andrew Scheer or possibly Kevin O’Leary

Maxime Bernier

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.

Photo credit: By Marcello Casal Jr/ABr (Agência Brasil [1]) [CC BY 3.0 br], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. one thing we can be sure of is that there are very few conservatives in the group. Bernier is the closest. we need more liberal lite like a hole in the head.

  2. My choices would be Michael Chong first, Lisa Raitt second, and third I am undecided between Maxime Bernier and Erin O'Toole. While I am more of a Red Tory, I also believe if the party wants to win in 2019 it has to broaden its appeal while not totally abandon conservative principles, but be able to appeal to more people than it does now. I feel Michael Chong being a moderate could appeal to many who voted Conservative in 2011 but then switched to the Liberals in 2015 as well as even appeal to some Blue Liberals and younger voters who lean right. Lisa Raitt could help the party regain seats in Atlantic Canada and as one of the few Tories elected in the 905 belt, also win back there. Her main weakness is her French is not great. Erin O'Toole is a low risk type who neither excites nor offends so if Trudeau is still popular in 2019, he won't take us far, but if Trudeau becomes unpopular, he is a fairly safe choice. I personally like Bernier, but I am not sure most Canadians are comfortable with a libertarian. I would have no problem voting for him in 2019, but still skeptical if he could win although at least unlike some of the others his support is fairly even amongst all age groups meaning down the road his ideas might be an easier sell once millennials start paying taxes.

    Andrew Scheer is okay, but seems a little too conservative as he is around the same spot on the spectrum Harper was and unless Trudeau messes up badly, I don't think we can win being in that spot, but with his lack of his policy, maybe he will surprise me. I like Kevin O'Leary personally, but choosing him as leader is a death wish. The party would get crushed if he was chosen. Canadians are often known for being polite and a gentle country and I just don't think his brash style sells well on this side of the border. Also with income inequality being a vogue issue right now, anyone who is seen as favouring the rich will have a tough time even if his policies are the tough medicine we need. Better for him to continue to criticize from the sideline and then have someone who is less brash and leans in his direction but a bit more moderate implement them.

  3. Hi Russ, wondering where you are with your thought process at this point. I like Raitt but the lack of French and her cancer is sexy scandal would kill her. My top three are Bernier, Chong and O'Toole but not sure how to rank them yet. Not impressed at all with O'Leary. I love Bernier's policies but wonder if he can beat Trudeau, who will wrap himself in the flag and rail against the destruction of medicare, the loss of auto and aerospace work due to the loss of subsidies and the "damage" to the federation caused by going after equalization. All stuff that I love about Bernier but may be hard to sell...

    1. Thank you, Anon, for your comment. I still pretty much where I was in mid-Jan, but am less impressed with Kevin O'Leary.