New era for old conservatives

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Who wearing blue will wave the white flag in this leadership race? Wikipedia Commons

Desperately seeking Stephen two

Back in December of last year, Andy Scheer resigned as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC). Scheer’s abdication was highly anticipated after the Conservatives failed to form government several months prior, after October’s federal election. Though the Tories earned an additional 23 seats this fall, many political analysts agree that the Conservative’s failure to clinch power from the Liberals proved to be an immense fiasco.

2019 and the lead-up to the election proved a sticky matter for Trudeau and the Liberal majority government. In February, news broke of the SNC-Lavalin scandal which would dominate headlines for months to come, jeopardizing confidence in the Canadian government. Then, in September, the infamous photos of Justin Trudeau in brown face broke, stripping the Prime Minister of his progressive façade. As stated by Enzo Dimatteo for NOW Magazine, Toronto, “…this was Scheer’s election to lose, and lose he did. Despite the Brownface/Blackface controversy, Scheer still managed to be outperformed by Trudeau.”

As reported by Global News, Scheer’s election snafu wasn’t the only factor nudging him back into the world of fake insurance brokers. Amanda Connolly wrote on Dec.12, 2019 that “[Scheer’s] resignation comes as a direct result of new revelations that he was using Conservative Party money to pay for his children’s private schooling […] Senior Conservatives say the expenditures were made without the knowledge or approval of the Conservative fund board, including the chair of the board.”

Scheer is staying on as the party’s leader until June 27 in Toronto, a date that has been drastically moved up from the original Nov. 2020 timeline.

Now, middle aged white men all the way from Toronto to Montréal are gearing up to enter the prestigious race for the CPC leadership, a campaign which has already seen controversy. Here is a list of those who have put forth their name for the Conservative Party so far:

Peter MacKay, Ontario; Erin O’Toole, Ontario; Richard Décarie, Québec; Marilyn Gladu, Ontario; Vincenzo Guzzo, Québec; Rudy Husny, Québec; Jim Karahalios, Ontario; Leslyn Lewis, Ontario; Rick Peterson, Alberta; Aron Seal, Ontario; Bobby Singh, Ontario; Derek Sloan, Ontario. MacKay and O’Toole are the only candidates who officially registered for the leadership race, both having met the $300,000 qualifying fee.

It would appear that the West is focusing their efforts on Wexit at this time.

John Williamson (New Brunswick) has expressed interest in running as well as John Baird (Ontario). The party’s former interim leader, Rona Ambrose (Alberta), has stated that she will not seek the leadership. MacKay is considered the frontrunner of all the candidates, though Baird could pose a viable challenger should he decide to run.

Peter MacKay is a former Member of Parliament, who served his Nova Scotia constituency from 1997 to 2015. In 2003, MacKay, then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, merged with Stephen Harper’s Canadian Alliance. This led to the advent of the current CPC. MacKay was named deputy leader of the party by Harper after MacKay himself chose not to run. During his time in Parliament, MacKay held the portfolios of Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Justice and Attorney General. MacKay practiced law before his appointment to government and again upon losing his seat in the 2015 election.

MacKay’s campaign has already caused waves amongst the Canadian public. On Feb. 1, MacKay tweeted that Justin Trudeau’s campaign spent $876.95 in yoga classes and spa bills. While MacKay was likely trying to incite outrage, the general response was more along the lines of “ok, and why should we care?” Tabatha Southey at Maclean’s states that, “The subtext of the tweet was painfully obvious: Trudeau’s not butch enough for what is essentially an only slightly glorified office job.” It’s also important to note that this yoga money was spent spent years ago – get with it, Pete!

When asked about this tweet in a recent interview with CTV, MacKay and the journalist conducting the interview were cut off by MacKay’s PR team. Footage has one staff member saying “I think we’re done. You just went way over. I’m sorry.” The journalist defends her question and MacKay says, “She’s just doing her job.”

Mackay has also fallen under criticism due to his inability to speak French, a trait which many other potential candidates have cited as a reason to not run themselves, agreeing that it’s an essential quality for leaders.

While John Baird’s candidacy remains hypothetical, many Conservatives, such as one Mr. Jason Kenney, are urging Baird to join the race. Baird also held the Foreign Affairs portfolio under Harper’s government and also acted as Minister of Environment as well as Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

In an interview with Global’s The West Block, Baird stated that the party needed to modernize while maintaining traditional stances and beliefs. He also noted the poor results of last fall’s election in Ontario, specifically in Toronto and the GTA. Baird is continuing to weigh his options as the Feb. 27 deadline for candidates to enter approaches.

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