Conservatives postpone policy convention to focus on organizing leadership race

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OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives say they’re postponing a policy convention that had been scheduled for mid-April to allow more time organize an upcoming leadership race.

The party announced the delay Saturday afternoon, saying that the convention will now take place in November in Quebec City.

“The Conservative Party’s National Council voted Friday to delay the policy convention planned for Toronto from April 16 to 18 so greater focus could be given to the details and organization around the Conservative leadership election process,” the party said in a news release.

The Tories are gearing up for a leadership contest after leader Andrew Scheer announced earlier this month that he will step down when a new leader is chosen.

The move wasn’t entirely unexpected, coming after months of both behind-the-scenes and very public pressure linked to his failure to win power from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October.

But the issue of his leadership came to a head when accusations surfaced that he’d used party funds to cover the costs of sending his kids to private school.

The party has yet to provide a timeline for the leadership race.

Some in the party have called for the selection of their next leader to take place after April, while others say with a minority government in Ottawa, there is no time to waste.

A former senior party official said earlier this week it would have been feasible — but exceptionally difficult — for the Conservatives to pick a new leader at the convention had it gone ahead in April.

Dan Nowlan, who oversaw the 2017 leadership contest that ended in a victory for Scheer, said it would take a lot of work to organize the contest that quickly.

Potential candidates’ names are already swirling, including Ottawa MP Pierre Poilievre, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and one-time interim party leader Rona Ambrose.