Conservative leadership hopefuls weigh in


OTTAWA – Toronto businessman Mark Mulroney says he won’t run for the Conservative leadership — at least not for now. Calgary MP Michelle Rempel, on the other hand, appears to be openly musing about a bid.

And a Conservative source is highlighting the fact that Jason Kenney has been one of the party’s most successful fundraisers — bringing in $450,000 alone to his own riding since January, and another $300,000 through other activities.

It’s all part of the chatter around a race that doesn’t even have a convention date set yet, in a party where Stephen Harper is technically still the leader. A leadership committee was struck on Tuesday evening.

Mulroney, son of former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, says his family is always interested in public service and politics. But will he run?

“No. But that being said, you never say never to these things,” Mulroney said in an interview Thursday.

For now, Mulroney said, he’s focused on his job as the Toronto-based head of capital equity markets at National Bank. His brother Ben is a broadcaster with CTV and sister Caroline is an investment management executive.

“It’s not something that hasn’t crossed my mind and my brother’s mind, but I’m focused on the job at hand,” Mulroney said in an interview.

He added that he is happy to actively help the party.

Brian Mulroney was a high-profile labour lawyer who became deeply involved in Tory party politics, and was a corporate executive at the time of his leadership win in 1983.

Jean Charest, one of Mulroney’s successors as Progressive Conservative leader before he jumped to Quebec politics, is also ruling himself out of the race to succeed Harper. Charest, 57, told Radio-Canada he is happy with his new life and his job as a lawyer at McCarthy Tetrault.

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel appeared to be musing publicly on Twitter on Wednesday about throwing her own hat into the ring. She referred to people who had been urging her to “do it.”

She pointed out some of the comments that women in politics get when they consider such a leap.

“I mean, I’m too brash, impetuous and abrasive, right? Maybe I should take a little time — good things come to those who wait. I’m a bit too aggressive. Maybe the base won’t understand me,” she tweeted.

But Rempel told The Canadian Press on Thursday that the public should not interpret her Twitter comments as an indication she is considering a run at Harper’s job.

“It is way too early for anyone to be talking about seeking the leadership,” she said in a phone interview.

“I was simply using examples of the sort of questions that could arise for anyone looking to become leader. I don’t believe anyone should be dismissed because of their gender, experience or where they live.”

Rempel wouldn’t say whether she is interested in the job. She did make it clear that the party needs time to make sure the right person leads the Conservatives into the next election.

Other names that have been circulating as potential leadership candidates include MPs Kenney, Lisa Raitt, Rob Nicholson, Kellie Leitch, Michael Chong and Tony Clement.

The Conservative source who shared Kenney’s fundraising numbers said the defence minister has been the most successful MP in the party’s history at reaping donations.

Raitt hasn’t ruled out a run, but said earlier this week that the party needs to first do a proper analysis of the last election campaign and figure out where it’s going. Nicholson, the former foreign affairs and defence minister, is widely expected to seek the job.

On Thursday, MP Diane Finley became the first to put her name forward for interim leader, a job that is appointed by the parliamentary caucus.

— With files from Bill Graveland in Calgary