Possible Conservative leadership strategies and next priorities for the minority government

Shaun Haney and Rona Ambrose, Grow Canada, 2018

The Conservative Party of Canada is again looking for a new leader, just two years after Andrew Scheer stepped up.

Now that the rules of engagement have been laid out, featuring some significant changes from the last leadership race, names are being added — and not added — to the list of contenders.

Jeff English, now with ThinkShift but formerly of Parliament Hill, recently sat down with RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney to break down the current candidates and what each will need to overcome to be successful.

Those in the mix seems to change by the minute, English says, but he does anticipate a bit of a smoother process this time around, as the requisites for entry are stiffer and the race shorter and more focused. As seen in the U.S., with too long of a leadership contest, people tune out.

Of those up for discussion, English sees it this way:

  • Rona Ambrose has announced she is not going to enter the leadership race, and perhaps that is for the best given her hesitancy to head back to public life. “You want someone who is all in. If you’re not fully committed to it, don’t go for it. It’s a grueling job,” English says. Ambrose is still active on the policy scene, of course, serving on the NAFTA 2.0 committee with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several other committees and boards.
  • Pierre Poilievre is another name being discussed, and he’s one that grew up in the party, but doesn’t have a lot of business experience. He very much knows the political game, and is seen as an attack dog in opposition, but can he re-brand as Prime Minister in waiting? That remains to be seen.
  • Peter McKay is officially in the race, it would seem following a “I’m in” tweet.  “He’d be a very serious contender, and early front-runner,” English says, coming from the Progressive Conservative side, he helped merged the party to what it is now. But he’s also an Easterner, can he garner support across the country and win over the more Tory blue Prairies?  That said, “The race will be better off with him in it,” English says.
  • Michael Chong is another name that gets mentioned plenty, especially by Ontario voters. But does he have a chance? English says that he’s an “ideas guy” and likes policy and driving issues and ideas, and is less about tax cuts and incentives. Is the party ready for more of a visionary?


Listen on to hear more on the leadership race, thoughts on Chrystia Freeland’s expanded role in Trudeau’s government, and priorities for the Liberal minority government once Parliament returns in a few days: 

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