Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday January 24, 2020
Where the Tory leadership race stands now that Ambrose and Charest are out
Rona Ambrose is out and she wasn’t even in. The former Conservative minister ended weeks of speculation about whether she would run for the party’s leadership by saying that she is going to pass and “focus on making a difference through the private sector”.
She said she struggled with the decision of whether or not to return to political life but her conclusion came as no surprise. Her friends were always dubious that she would commit. She married her partner, businessman JP Veitch, last summer and people who know her well said she is enjoying the pace of life in the private sector, as well as being back in Alberta.
The announcement will be lamented by Conservatives who saw her as the most likely bet to modernize a party that has been disparaged as out-of-date and narrow-minded. In her written statement, Ambrose tacitly made the case for change. “I know we will choose a strong, compassionate person to lead us, who supports ALL families,” she said.
She joins former Quebec premier Jean Charest on the sidelines.
There is general agreement among the dozen or so senior Conservatives I spoke with on Wednesday, that this is shaping into a contest between Peter MacKay and Pierre Poilievre, with Erin O’Toole a wild card in third place but still capable of pulling off a shock.
Charest’s decision certainly upsets any plans Poilievre had of running as the rock-ribbed movement candidate, who would stop the Progressive Conservatives and other socialist apparatchiks from taking over their party.
On the other hand, Charest would have brought in new members who would have been more likely to transfer their support to MacKay, if and when Charest fell off the ballot.
There are growing concerns that this could prove to be a particularly divisive contest, if the two candidates are viewed as proxies – Poilievre for Stephen Harper; MacKay for Brian Mulroney.
But it is an over-simplification to suggest Poilievre will be the hard-right Reform candidate and MacKay the voice of the mushy Red Tory middle. (Continued: National Post)