Former premier Brad Wall is proud of Saskatchewan members of the Conservative Party of Canada who voted for Leslyn Lewis.
Wall, whom many party members wanted to seek the leadership himself, congratulated Erin O’Toole on his victory Monday morning Eastern Time.
Yet on Saskatchewan’s first ballot at the leadership convention, it was Lewis who led all candidates with 554 of a possible 1,400 points.
“It’s a good indication of the fact that Saskatchewan conservatives were responding to a principled campaign,” Wall told Global News in an interview.
Saskatchewan was the only province to place Lewis in the top spot.
Lewis, a Toronto lawyer with a PhD in law, entered the race with a relatively low political profile. She emerged as a contender during the 2020 campaign.
The pillars of her platform included “upholding family as the cornerstone of society,” “protecting our fundamental freedoms,” “pursuing compassion towards the vulnerable” and “standing for fiscal responsibility,” according to her website.
Wall said Lewis put forward “a very clear message for western Canada” at a time when some westerners are “flirting with protest parties or independence movements.”
Lori Williams, a Mount Royal University political scientist, said voters were likely attracted to the fact Lewis was largely a political newcomer who exhibited “nuanced social conservatism.”
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Williams said Lewis also has credibility when it comes to environmental policy – she holds a Masters degree in environmental studies.
She is also the only Black, female leadership candidate in the Conservative party’s history.
“Saskatchewan and particularly Alberta tend to have a reputation for being redneck, shall we say,” Williams said.
“The reality is Saskatchewan and Alberta are diverse, and even within the Conservative party, there’s a fair bit of diversity and I think that’s reflected in the vote.”
On Monday, Andrew Scheer told Global News he hopes Lewis stays involved in the party and will encourage her to run for the Conservatives in the future.
Derek Sloan dropped off the first ballot, followed by Lewis on the second and Peter MacKay on the third.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who voted in the race, told Global News he’s happy with the outcome.
O’Toole’s platform “identifies and understands that there is western alienation thoughts that are out here,” Moe said.
Moe also welcomed O’Toole’s support for pipeline construction, his opposition to carbon taxation and overall approach to the economy.
“He spoke to the diverse sectors across Canada, and nowhere was that more evident than the sectors here in western Canada that are generating wealth,” Moe said, referencing energy, mining and agriculture.
Roughly 175,000 Conservative party members cast ballots in the leadership race.
— With files from Amanda Connolly.