May 29, 2016 11:20 am

As Jason Kenney mulls leadership bid, Peter MacKay urges Conservatives to modernize

WATCH ABOVE: Closer to decision on running for party leader: Kenney Conservative MP Jason Kenney tells Tom Clark he will decide this summer whether he will seek leadership of his party, and that he has not ruled out playing a role in uniting the right in Alberta.


Conservative MP Jason Kenney says he will decide within the next three months whether he will run to replace Stephen Harper, but that he has not ruled out playing a role in uniting the right in Alberta.

All doors appear to remain open for the Albertan MP, who won his own seat last October but watched his party go down in defeat as the Liberals formed a majority government.

“I hope to make a decision by the end of the summer,” Kenney told The West Block’s Tom Clark.

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“You have to be absolutely certain you’re prepared to go into a kind of life where you don’t have weekends or evenings. It could not be more demanding, and I wanted to hear what people in the convention think. I’ve been honestly profoundly encouraged by expressions of support, but I haven’t made a decision yet.”

READ MORE: Bob Rae apologizes for gag caught on camera during speech about Harper

Asked about rumours that he might dive in to provincial politics instead and attempt to unit right-leaning voters in Alberta against the current NDP government, Kenney said he’s keeping his options open.

“I haven’t ruled anything in or out,” he told Clark.

Kenney also addressed the grueling 78-day campaign last fall, saying it left him exhausted. He argued that although the Conservatives lost a share of the immigrant vote in the election, which Kenney has courted diligently over the last decade, it wasn’t all bad news.

“We still won a higher percentage of votes amongst new Canadians than people born in the country,” he explained. “This is the only centre-right party in the democratic world of which that is true.”

‘Rough edges’ are coming off, says MacKay

Also joining Clark this weekend was another potential leadership contender: Peter MacKay. The popular East Coast MP stepped away from political life to spend more time with his young family, but was back on the scene this weekend in Vancouver.

MacKay said the party is going through a catharsis of sorts after the election, and that it will need to be more pragmatic moving forward if it wants to court so-called “red Tory” voters that lean toward the centre of the political spectrum.

“They’re going to be looking to see that our party has modernized, that we’ve taken off some of the rough edges,” MacKay said. “That we’ve seriously taken on some of the lessons of the last election campaign.”

MacKay, who is still mulling a potential run for the leadership, confirmed that he personally supports gay marriage, but not the full legalization of marijuana. He said any cap-and-trade carbon pricing would need to be very “closely negotiated.

Watch Tom Clark’s full interview with Peter MacKay:



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