London Conservative MP says caucus ready to unite behind new CPC leader

After a year-long leadership campaign that saw 15 candidates, the Conservative Party of Canada will select its new leader on Saturday — and the new leader will start work just two days later.

READ MORE: Next Tory leader must reunite party

With the House of Commons in session next week, the new leader will immediately assume responsibilities as leader of the Official Opposition, which means a new office, residency at Stornoway, and privilege of raising the first question each day in Question Period — including on Monday.

Elgin-Middlesex-London Member of Parliament Karen Vecchio, a first term Conservative, said she’s looking forward to holding the government to account with a new leader in place after this weekend.

“We’ll all be going back to Ottawa, sitting down with the caucus for two to three hours and not only congratulating the new leader, but getting the new leader right on board so that we’re right on track when it comes to Monday afternoon, so I’m really excited about it,” Vecchio said Friday afternoon on the Andrew Lawton Show on AM980.

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Vecchio endorsed Durham MP and former veterans affairs minister Erin O’Toole — widely considered one of the front-runners in the race — but said the most important thing to come next week is that the caucus rallies under its new leadership, regardless of who wins.

“When I chose and endorsed Erin O’Toole, it was because so many of the things that he stands for would [have] a positive impact in Elgin-Middlesex-London. The same things put forward, whether it’s by Maxime Bernier or Andrew Scheer or Michael Chong, it’s really important that we always are working together,” Vecchio said. “You’re not going to see that rivalry between camps whatsoever. We all work together. Our job as a Conservative caucus is to work together. So I think as of Monday it’s not going to be an issue.”

The leader will be selected by the country’s 259,000 paid Conservative members, who have been mailing in ballots for several weeks and will also have an opportunity to vote in person at Saturday’s convention at the Toronto Congress Centre.

Of the 14 candidates on the ballot — including Kevin O’Leary, who suspended his campaign after the deadline to formally withdraw — voters will rank up to 10 candidates.

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Under the preferential balloting system, if no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote, the last-place contender is eliminated and his or her supporters’ second choices are counted. That continues until one emerges with a majority, which, projections indicate could be as many as eleven or twelve rounds of tabulation.

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The winner will be announced Saturday evening.