Names in the mix: Conservative leadership contenders

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OTTAWA — The Conservative leadership race is underway and the deadline to register as a candidate was Thursday.

To register, a candidate had to submit 1,000 signatures, $25,000, and a full application form. Each also needs to be approved by the party’s leadership organizing committee.

These are the candidates who have been approved to run:

— Marilyn Gladu: A professional engineer for decades before she was elected an MP in 2015, Gladu is well-liked among her peers in the House of Commons, once being named the “Most Collegial Parliamentarian” in an annual survey. She represents the Ontario riding of Sarnia-Lambton, and has been the party critic on health and science files. She has two children.

— Jim Karahalios: A long-time activist in Ontario conservative circles, Karahalios is known for two advocacy campaigns targeting the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, one to end its once-upon-a-time support for a carbon tax, and a second over nomination issues plaguing the party under former leader Patrick Brown. A lawyer and businessman, he is the spouse of Belinda Karahalios, the Ontario Progressive Conservative MPP for the riding of Cambridge.

— Leslyn Lewis: A Toronto lawyer who came to Canada from Jamaica as a child. Though she’s never held elected office, she did run for the Conservatives in the 2015 election, losing to a Liberal. She runs a legal practice and among other things was until recently the vice-chair of Ontario’s Trillium Foundation, a major government granting agency. She holds multiple degrees, including a PhD. She has been endorsed by the Campaign Life Coalition, an organization that supports pro-life candidates.

— Peter MacKay: MacKay was a member of Parliament from 1997 to 2015 representing ridings in Nova Scotia. In 2003, he became the leader of the Progressive Conservative party, and was instrumental in its merger with the Canadian Alliance to form the current Conservative party in 2004. He went on to hold three cabinet positions in the subsequent Conservative governments. He left politics to resume his legal career. He is married to human-rights advocate Nazanin Afshin-Jam, with whom he has three children, and they live in Toronto. MacKay is the first candidate to have met all the requirements to run in the race, submitting the entire $300,000 fee and 3,000 signatures, as well as the application.

— Erin O’Toole: O’Toole is in his third term as an MP, having left the private sector for politics in a 2012 byelection for the Toronto-area riding of Durham. He was veterans-affairs minister in the last Conservative government, a post he received in part thanks to his earlier career in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He ran for the leadership of the party in 2017, finishing third. He is married to events planner Rebecca O’Toole and they have three children. In addition to meeting the first threshold for candidates, O’Toole has submitted a further 1,000 signatures, the entire refundable $100,000 compliance deposit and an additional $25,000 of the total fee.

— Rick Peterson: Peterson is making his second try for the Conservative leadership, having run and lost in 2017. After that campaign, he moved his B.C.-based business to Alberta, partially in an unsuccessful effort to try and secure a nomination to run as a candidate there. Since then, in addition to his finance business, he’s launched a not-for-profit focusing on getting people in the investment industry to support resource-sector workers and their families. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three dogs.

— Derek Sloan: In his first term as a member of Parliament for the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington, Sloan previously worked as a lawyer and before that, owned a furniture business. He’s running with the support of several anti-abortion organizations. He is married and has three children.

These are the candidates who met the deadline to submit the required signatures and fee but who are awaiting official approval by the party:

— Richard Decarie: From Quebec, his conservative bona fides include work getting Stephen Harper elected as the first leader of the Conservative party. He’s also worked as a talk show host and in the not-for-profit sector, including with Food Banks Quebec. He is running expressly as a social conservative. He is married and has a daughter and a stepdaughter.

— Rudy Husny: The longtime Quebec operative for the Conservative party was until recently working for current leader Andrew Scheer. When the Conservatives were in government, Husny held several positions in the trade minister’s office, assisting with communications and stakeholder relations on files including international trade agreements.

All candidates must, by March 25, submit the refundable $100,000 compliance deposit, the entire non-refundable $200,000 entry fee and a total of 3,000 signatures to have their names appear on the ballot and attend party debates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press