Federal Conservatives to choose new leader Sept. 10

By The Canadian Press

The Conservative Party of Canada will wait until Sept. 10 to pick a new leader, providing more time for prospective candidates to mount their campaigns.

The party says candidates will have until April 19 to throw their hats into the ring.

The entry fee will be $200,000, on top of a $100,000 deposit to ensure they comply with the rules, which will be refunded after the contest is over.

That is the same amount of money needed to enter the last leadership race in 2020, which saw Erin O’Toole take the helm of the party.

Membership applications must be in by June 3 and ballots will begin going out to Conservative party members.

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So far, the only candidate that has declared himself to be running is Pierre Poilievre, a well-known Ottawa-area MP with a reputation for fiery performances in Parliament.

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest said Wednesday he was waiting to see the party rules before deciding whether or not he would mount a leadership bid.

“You’ll remember that two years ago I came to the conclusion that the campaign would not have been viable because there wasn’t enough time for me to go out there to introduce myself to the membership and to recruit new members,” he told reporters Wednesday night before meeting MPs and senators at a hotel in downtown Ottawa at a reception planned by two people who want him to run.

“Do they allow us to do a real campaign and get ourselves known.”

Conservative MP and former leadership contender Michael Chong said earlier Wednesday that he hasn’t ruled out another potential run for the job.

In 2017, he placed fifth in the crowded race to replace former Conservative leader and prime minister Stephen Harper, in which Andrew Scheer was ultimately elected.

Chong told reporters his first priority now is his foreign affairs critic role, which he holds as Canada and other world powers respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The second focus, he said, is “thinking about, in the coming weeks, what I can do to help my party and my country.”

Others considering running include Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who formerly led Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives, and Leslyn Lewis, the Ontario MP who placed third behind former leader Erin O’Toole in the 2020 contest, thanks to considerable backing from social conservatives and members from Western Canada.

One factor that hangs over the race’s timing is the fact that Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau governs in a minority Parliament, which means an election could happen any time.

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