OTTAWA – Three Conservative MPs who sought the party’s leadership earlier this year are bracing for a fight to represent the party at all come the 2019 election.
Kellie Leitch, Brad Trost and Deepak Obhrai are among several sitting MPs facing nomination challenges for the next federal vote.
Trost and Leitch say they don’t see the challenges as connected to their failed leadership bids and they are both running again as well for the party’s nod.
The deadline for filing to challenge incumbent MPs for Conservative nominations was Friday.
The next step is for the riding associations to approve the candidates and after that, for elections to be held at some point next year.
In addition to the three leadership contenders, at least three other current MPs face challengers.
Leitch finished sixth in the leadership race, running on a platform that included, among other things, a controversial call for a values test for new Canadians.
She’s kept a relatively low profile in the House of Commons since, but said she continues to enjoy the support of people in her riding.
“Our party has an open nomination process and I agree with it,” she said in a brief interview.
“It’s part of a healthy process and evidence of a strong party.”
Gillian Yeates, a Harvard-educated physician seeking to challenge Leitch, declined to comment until after her candidacy is formally approved.
But in an interview with a local news outlet last month, she said the riding needed a change.
“I feel strongly there needs to be changes and changes on how we are addressing our public and presenting ourselves as a country,” she told Simcoe.com.
“Sometimes there is something that says this is a need and this needs to change and that’s why I am doing it.”
Trost says he has met with Brad Redekopp, the local businessman challenging him, and is ready for a fight if the application is accepted.
“I will know for sure in the first week of January if he got everything together and his Is dotted and his Ts crossed.”
“I’m preparing as if he has, but he may not have.”
Redekopp declined to comment, saying his campaign will issue a statement in the coming days.
Obhrai was the first to drop off the ballot in last May’s vote.
He’s currently the longest-serving Conservative MP and had said at the party’s summer caucus meeting he intended to run again.
In a post to his social media pages over the weekend, Obhrai called news of a challenger for his Calgary-area seat a “conspiracy” and he’ll fight it.