Advertisement

Potential Tory leaderships candidates test the waters at weekend conference

Click to play video: 'Conservative leader hopefuls part of renewal process after election loss' Conservative leader hopefuls part of renewal process after election loss
WATCH ABOVE: Much has been made of the Conservatives’ need to rebrand themselves after their election loss and Stephen Harper’s departure after more than a decade at the helm. But Kevin O’Leary doesn’t think the next leader should worry about that. Vassy Kapelos reports – Feb 27, 2016

OTTAWA – Potential candidates for leadership of the federal Conservatives began staking claims this weekend to policy positions ranging from a call for a referendum on pipelines to a rethink of subsidies to the CBC.

With no formal rules in place for the 2017 Conservative leadership vote, no candidate has yet to formally enter the race.

But five potential hopefuls took the stage nonetheless over the last two days at the annual Manning conference to speak on a panel called “If I run, here’s how.”

Lisa Raitt, Tony Clement, Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong are all current Tory MPs, the fifth was businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary.

They aren’t the only names in the mix.

READ MORE: Tories looking to move forward at national convention

One that surfaced at the convention is that of Andrew Scheer, the Saskatchewan MP and former Speaker.

Story continues below advertisement

He’s fluently bilingual, young, and because of his role as Speaker, not saddled with some of the partisan baggage of his caucus colleagues, sources told The Canadian Press.

Others frequently bandied about include current MPs Kellie Leitch, Jason Kenney, former MPs Peter MacKay and James Moore and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

In no particular order, here’s some of what each of the five potential candidates said to the conference about how they’d run.

Lisa Raitt

Ontario MP currently serving in the high profile position of finance critic for the Opposition.

Raitt spoke about her upbringing in Cape Breton, N.S. and how she came to get into politics. She urged Conservatives not to think of the current Liberal government as history repeating itself and said the current prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is not his father Pierre and the default approach should not be the Liberals will get two terms in office.

“Let’s figure out what brings us together and what unites us. Let us remember who we are fighting for, what we are fighting against and never ever speak ill of any fellow conservative.”

WATCH: Conservative MP Lisa Raitt says she hasn’t decided if she will run for leader of Conservative party
Click to play video: 'Conservative MP Lisa Raitt says she hasn’t decided if she will run for leader of Conservative party' Conservative MP Lisa Raitt says she hasn’t decided if she will run for leader of Conservative party
Conservative MP Lisa Raitt says she hasn’t decided if she will run for leader of Conservative party – Feb 27, 2016

—-

Story continues below advertisement

Tony Clement

An Ontario MP who held several cabinet positions under the previous government and is well known for his robust presence on social media.

He says the Conservatives need to explore what their environment policy should look like post the Paris summit on climate change this year, that a debate on an anti-poverty strategy is essential and the government subsidy to CBC needs to be reviewed. He also slammed the party’s election strategy and says he plans to launch an app to help with outreach.

“We do need to re-evaluate and adapt to the shifting Canadian political landscape but this does not mean throwing out the good with the bad. We must be the political organization that represents those basic tenets that define conservativism.”

WATCH: Conservative MP Tony Clement rallies support for renewal of the Conservative party
Click to play video: 'Conservative MP Tony Clement rallies support for renewal of the Conservative party' Conservative MP Tony Clement rallies support for renewal of the Conservative party
Conservative MP Tony Clement rallies support for renewal of the Conservative party – Feb 27, 2016

—-

Story continues below advertisement

Maxime Bernier

One of the most popular Conservative MPs in Quebec.

He called for an end to government subsides for business and a rethink of the equalization payment system. He also attacked the notion – advanced by O’Leary – that being bilingual was not a requirement for winning the race, winning much applause. Bernier handed out T-shirts and business cards directing people to a “Maxime in 2017” website but says he’s waiting to see the rules of the race before formally declaring he’ll run.

“We Conservatives have to show everyone that we have solutions. For me, it is not solutions involving Ottawa redistributing more money from some regions to others, but solutions based on a freer economy, on responsibility and fairness.”

WATCH: Conservative MP Maxime Bernier discusses ways party can regain public trust
Click to play video: 'Conservative MP Maxime Bernier discusses ways party can regain public trust' Conservative MP Maxime Bernier discusses ways party can regain public trust
Conservative MP Maxime Bernier discusses ways party can regain public trust – Feb 27, 2016

 

Story continues below advertisement

—-

Kevin O’Leary

Businessman and best known to Canadians for his role on the CBC show Dragons’ Den.

He says he thinks the economy is broken, as evidenced by the slide in the Canadian dollar and that too many young people leave Canada for work elsewhere. Until it’s fixed, there’s no point debating any other issues, he said. He called for a national referendum on pipeline construction.

“My only interest is to affect economic and fiscal policy and make it more efficient.”

WATCH: Kevin O’Leary says the 2016 Ontario budget is full of waste
Click to play video: 'Kevin O’Leary says the 2016 Ontario budget is full of waste' Kevin O’Leary says the 2016 Ontario budget is full of waste
Kevin O’Leary says the 2016 Ontario budget is full of waste – Feb 26, 2016

—-

Michael Chong

Ontario Tory MP who in the last Parliament championed a bill to reform the way party caucuses operated in the House of Commons.

Story continues below advertisement

During his speech, he called for a debate on carbon pricing, implementing a flat income tax and on democratic reform to make parties more open and transparent. He said the party should take a page from the Liberals’ outreach strategy to younger Canadians.

“If I run, I would do two things – I would better tell our story and i would put forward bold and innovative policies based on Conservative principles.”

Sponsored content