A Pressed Cheat Sheet for:


Published Mar 22, 2017

~6 minute read


Let’s take it way back to 2015. Justin Trudeau was elected the Prime Minister of Canada and ousted the Conservative party from power. There are almost 20 registered political parties in Canada, but PM duties rotate between the Conservatives and Liberals.

The Conservatives are hoping to take their turn in the PM seat in 2019 when Trudeau’s term is up and Canadians go to the polls.

Why are the Conservatives looking for a new leader now?

After losing the 2015 election to Trudeau, former PM Stephen Harper made the decision to step down as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Soon after, Rona Ambrose was elected the interim leader. And since you don’t want to rush into anything new after a breakup, the party decided to wait until 2017 to elect a new leader. Which brings us here.

Key Players

There are a lot of people in the race. 14 to be exact. Here are the ones to watch:

Kevin O’Leary: 62 years old. Conservative Party newbie with a background in business and reality TV. Probably the only candidate you’ve heard of.

Main pitch: The economy. O’Leary doesn’t like unions, defends free market principles, and hates the carbon tax. He has spent a lot of time bashing Trudeau’s planned deficit and an equal amount of time boasting about his business experience.

What he’s known for: Being rich, provocative, and on Dragons’ Den. He’s also known for not being good at French.

Can he win? He’s considered a favourite because of the fanfare but TBD on whether conservatives will trust him and his inexperience.

More: https://olearyforcanada.ca/en/home/

Kellie Leitch: Another front-runner you may have heard of is 46-year-old Leitch. She used to work for Stephen Harper and has proposed more Trump-like policies than any other candidate.  

Main pitch: A proud “anti-elitist” who wants to screen immigrants for Canadian values.

Best known for: Trying to create a Trump-like movement in Canada. Her former campaign manager, Nick Kouvalis, helped Rob Ford and John Tory get elected.

Can she win? Her hard-line views excite a large segment of the conservative base, but the divisive language that makes her popular with them also makes it difficult for her to form broader support.

More: https://kellieworks.ca/

Chris Alexander: 48-year-old former Ajax MP on the opposite end of the spectrum from Leitch (at least in terms of immigration).

Main pitch: Wants to increase immigration to 400,000 per year, bring in 40,000 refugees, and settle claims with the First Nations to grant them power “to govern themselves.”

Best known for: Being the former Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and former Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Can he win? Intelligent, bilingual, and experienced; but probably won’t win. His immigration stance, lack of a seat in parliament, and close ties to the Harper government make him a longshot.

More: http://chrisalexander.ca/

Maxime Bernier: 54-year-old MP who’s really popular in Quebec. Bernier was a prominent figure in Harper’s government and served in a number of high-profile positions.

Main pitch: “Personal responsibility and freedom” – he’s against using government money to support private companies.

Best Known for: his “Mad Max” nickname. In 2013, he ran 100 km to raise money for a local charity. He’s also known for a scandal. He was forced to resign as Harper’s foreign affairs minister after he left confidential documents at his then girlfriend’s house.

Can he win? Yes. He’s leading the race in fundraising, will help the Conservatives in Quebec, and has solid support within the party.

More: http://www.maximebernier.com/

Michael Chong: 45-year-old MP from Ontario who wants to create a modern Conservative Party. 

Main pitch: he sits in the middle. He’s approaching the race with a “big tent” mentality; hoping to create a government with diverse viewpoints.

Best known for: After the Quebec mosque shooting, Chong called out certain conservative candidates – and Donald Trump – for “playing to fears and prejudices.” In other words, he accused them of having blood on their hands.

Can he win? As a moderate, he doesn’t inspire a lot of support, but he doesn’t push people away either. He’s the second choice for many people.

More: https://www.chong.ca/

Andrew Scheer: The youngest of the pack. This 37-year-old is the one who will most likely continue Stephen Harper’s legacy even though he never served on his cabinet.

Main pitch: Continuity. Like Harper, he promises to balance the country’s budget in two years. He also wants to create new free-trade deals with friendly nations. He’s personally pro-life but politically neutral.

Best Known for: Being young. He was the youngest Speaker of the House of Commons in history.

Can he win? He’s a frontrunner. Although he makes fewer headlines than O’Leary or Leitch, he has a lot of support.

More: http://www.andrewscheer.com/

Andrew Saxton: http://andrewsaxton.ca/

Steven Blaney: https://blaney2017.ca/

Pierre Lemieux: http://www.pierrelemieux.ca/splash?splash=1

Deepak Obhrai: https://www.deepakage.com/

Erin O’Toole: http://erinotoole.ca/

Rick Peterson: https://www.petersonleader.ca/

Lisa Raitt: http://www.lisa2019.ca/

Brad Trost: https://brad4leader.ca/

It’s probably also worth mentioning who isn’t running: Rona Ambrose. Conservative Party rules say that the interim leader can’t run for the position. So she’s out.

2017 Dates

March 28: the last day to become a Conservative Party member. You must be a member if you want to vote. Membership starts at $15.

April 26: Toronto Leadership debate

May 27: the vote

More events: http://www.conservative.ca/leadership/en/localevents

– Contributed by Richard Beattie