Less than a quarter of caucus members have yet to publicly endorse a candidate in the Conservative leadership race as the final month of campaigning begins.
Their reasons for staying mum range from having multiple close friends in the race to opting to remain neutral due to their involvement in the leadership race organization.
In total, 24 MPs and Senators have yet to endorse candidates.
Aside from that, others have said they are staying neutral, including several who won’t declare support because they are part of the caucus leadership team. This includes Interim Leader Rona Ambrose (Sturgeon River-Parkland, Alta.), House Leader Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar, Man.), and chair of the Ontario Conservative caucus Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham Kent-Leamington, Ont.).
Some have not declared yet for personal reasons, though a couple have stated publicly a short list of candidates they’re considering.
Four caucus members (two MPs, two Senators) had said they supported businessman Kevin O’Leary.
He announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the campaign and throwing his “full support” behind Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.), and asking his supporters to do the same. To what extent they, including his caucus supporters, will is uncertain at this point.
Those MPs and Senators still undeclared include Mike Lake (Edmonton-Wetaskiwin, Alta.) and Larry Miller (Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Ont.).
Mr. Lake said he is unsure if he’ll declare support for a single candidate before the convention, because he believes there are four individuals in the race who would make “good leaders.”
“I have four Members of Parliament who I prefer as candidates, who I think…would make good leaders. Those four are Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole, Lisa Raitt, and Maxime Bernier,” he said in an interview with The Hill Times.
“I’ll put that out there that I think all four of them are very, very smart, very nice people, capable of leading our party. And I’ll leave it to the folks in my riding and other Conservatives, who want to know my opinion, I’ll leave it to them to decide amongst those four, or anybody else.”
He added that he didn’t think his opinion should have any more importance than anybody else’s opinion.
Mr. Miller said it was having multiple friends in the running that prevented him from voicing his choice for leader publicly.
“I’ve got four or five real close friends in the race, and this is just a way I’ve decided to do it. I’ve been honest with them behind the scenes, I’m just publicly not announcing,” Mr. Miller said.
“I won’t be [announcing before the vote]. One of my…main criteria for any candidate is they have to have the potential to be able to beat Justin Trudeau in 2019. I think there’s a handful that do, that would be able to do that. In my opinion, they include Lisa Raitt, Erin O’Toole, Andrew Scheer, and Michael Chong,” he added.
Leadership candidates have touted in press releases throughout the campaign when caucus members endorse them. Though it’s debatable how important caucus support is to securing a leadership win, candidates able to amass endorsements from Conservative MPs and Senators are perceived to have momentum and support that may spread beyond caucus into the rank-and-file membership.
Mr. Lake and Mr. Miller said every candidate has approached them seeking their support. For Mr. Miller, most of those conversations took place with candidates over the phone.
“The actual candidate would call me, most of the time. With Kevin O’Leary, someone from his campaign called to set up a time that I could talk to him. There was a couple others that did the same. I think when Tony Clement was in, somebody reached out. But at the end of the day, I talked to each and every one of them either by phone or in person,” Mr. Miller said.
Similarly, Mr. Lake said, his conversations were directly with the candidates themselves, although he spoke with most of them face to face.
“We have the chance to interact on a fairly regular basis, at caucus on Wednesday mornings, or in and around votes, Question Period, and in the Commons, those sorts of things. I had a really good conversation with Erin O’Toole in the Toronto airport today, just coincidentally,” Mr. Lake said.
He said for candidates who aren’t sitting MPs—Rick Peterson, Chris Alexander, Andrew Saxton, and Pierre Lemieux—most interactions he’s had with them have been at leadership events.
Thirteen candidates are seeking to lead the party. Of those, nine are sitting MPs. They are: Mr. Bernier, Mr. O’Toole (Durham, Ont.), Mr. Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.), Mr. Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills, Ont.), Ms. Raitt (Milton, Ont.), Steven Blaney (Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis, Que.), Kellie Leitch (Simcoe-Grey, Ont.), Brad Trost (Saskatoon-University, Sask.), and Deepak Obhrai (Calgary-Forest Lawn, Alta.).
As of April 25, 69 MPs and 26 Senators had declared support for a candidate, out of a total of 99 MPs and 39 Senators, or 69 per cent. Removing the nine MP candidates themselves and Parliamentarians remaining neutral, there are still 12 Senators and 12 MPs undeclared. The Hill Times contacted all of their offices last week, but either didn’t hear back, or was told they had no comment or were undecided.
They include MPs just elected this month, Bob Benzen (Calgary Heritage, Alta.) and Stephanie Kusie (Calgary Midnapore, Alta.); as well as MPs Earl Dreeshen (Red Deer-Mountain View, Alta.), Cheryl Gallant (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, Ont.), Mr. Lake, John Nater (Perth-Wellington, Ont.), and David Sweet (Flamborough-Glanbrook, Ont.); former cabinet ministers Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, Ont.), Michelle Rempel (Calgary Nose Hill, Alta.), Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.), and Alice Wong (Richmond Centre, B.C.). Joël Godin (Portneuf-Jacques Cartier, Que.) said he would announce this week.
Senators who have yet to declare include: Saskatchwan’s Raynell Andreychuk; Ontario’s Salma Ataullahjan, Tobias Enverga Jr., Linda Frum, and Vern White; Yukon’s Daniel Lang; Newfoundland and Labrador’s Elizabeth Marshall and Fabian Manning; British Columbia’s Yonah Martin; Nova Scotia’s Thomas J. McInnis; and New Brunswick’s Paul E. McIntyre and Rose-May Poirier.
Mr. Scheer has the most endorsements, 32 (24 MPs and eight Senators), with Mr. O’Toole coming in second with 31 (29 MPs and two Senators), while Mr. Bernier has 16 caucus supporters (six MPs and 10 Senators), and Ms. Raitt has four (three MPs, one Senator). Ms. Leitch has three (all MPs), so does Mr. Chong (two MPs, one Senator), while Mr. Blaney has two (both Senators). Mr. Alexander, Mr. Lemieux, Mr. Obhrai, Mr. Peterson, Mr. Saxton, and Mr. Trost have no declared caucus support, though several have gained endorsements from former caucus members.
Pat Kelly (Calgary Rocky Ridge, Alta.) announced his endorsement for Mr. O’Toole on Monday, saying that, like most of his colleagues, making a decision was difficult given the number of qualified candidates in the race.
“Most of the candidates are my caucus colleagues, and many of them have many great attributes, so it was a tough decision to make. We’re fortunate to have a number of really good candidates that are running, so I think it’s a good thing that it’s tough for some of us to make a choice,” Mr. Kelly said.
“I think all of us are looking at which leader we think is going to be the most likely to help us win the next election, and who will then be the best prime minister,” he added.
Conservatives will vote on the party’s new leader in a ranked-ballot process with the results to be announced during a party convention on May 27 at the Toronto Congress Centre.
Editor’s note: this story was updated April 26 at 2:40 p.m., after Kevin O’Leary’s announcement he’s no longer running for leadership.
Conservative caucus endorsements, by candidate
|Dan Albas MP|
|Alupa Clarke MP|
|Tony Clement MP|
|Jacques Gourde MP|
|Tom Kmiec MP|
|Alex Nuttall MP|
|Lynn Beyak Senator|
|Claude Carignan Senator|
|Nicole Eaton Senator|
|Stephen Greene Senator|
|Leo Housakos Senator|
|Michael L. MacDonald Senator|
|Ghislain Maltais Senator|
|Thanh Hai Ngo Senator|
|Kelvin Ogilvie Senator|
|Larry Smith Senator|
|Total: 16 (6 MPs, 10 Senators)|
|Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu Senator|
|Jean-Guy Dagenais Senator|
|Total: 2 (both Senators)|
|Peter Kent MP|
|David Tilson MP|
|Victor Oh Senator|
|Total: 3 (2 MPs, 1 Senator)|
|Ben Lobb MP|
|Peter Van Loan MP|
|David Yurdiga MP|
|Total: 3 (all MPs)|
|Kevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)|
|Guy Lauzon MP|
|Len Webber MP|
|Percy Mockler Senator|
|David Wells Senator|
|Total: 4 (2 MPs, 2 Senators)|
|Harold Albrecht MP|
|Mel Arnold MP|
|James Bezan MP|
|John Brassard MP|
|Blaine Calkins MP|
|Colin Carrie MP|
|Michael Cooper MP|
|Gérard Deltell MP|
|Kerry Diotte MP|
|Todd Doherty MP|
|Jim Eglinski MP|
|Ed Fast MP|
|Rachael Harder MP|
|Randy Hoback MP|
|Pat Kelly MP|
|Robert Kitchen MP|
|Ron Liepert MP|
|Larry Maguire MP|
|Kelly McCauley MP|
|Cathy McLeod MP|
|Glen Motz MP|
|Blake Richards MP|
|Jamie Schmale MP|
|Martin Shields MP|
|Bev Shipley MP|
|Robert Sopuck MP|
|Karen Vecchio MP|
|Dianne Watts MP|
|Kevin Waugh MP|
|Nancy Greene Raine Senator|
|Bob Runciman Senator|
|Total: 31 (29 MPs, 2 Senators)|
|Dean Allison MP|
|Phil McColeman MP|
|Bruce Stanton MP|
|Judith Seidman Senator|
|Total: 4 (3 MPs, 1 Senator)|
|Ziad Aboultaif MP|
|David Anderson MP|
|John Barlow MP|
|Luc Berthold MP|
|Kelly Block MP|
|Sylvie Boucher MP|
|Ted Falk MP|
|Garnett Genuis MP|
|Marilyn Gladu MP|
|Matt Jeneroux MP|
|Tom Lukiwski MP|
|Pierre Paul-Hus MP|
|Alain Rayes MP|
|Scott Reid MP|
|Gerry Ritz MP|
|Bob Saroya MP|
|Kevin Sorenson MP|
|Mark Strahl MP|
|Shannon Stubbs MP|
|Arnold Viersen MP|
|Cathay Wagantall MP|
|Mark Warawa MP|
|Chris Warkentin MP (officially neutral re: deputy opposition House leader)|
|Bob Zimmer MP|
|Denise Batters Senator|
|Norman Doyle Senator|
|Dennis Patterson Senator|
|Don Plett Senator|
|Carolyn Stewart Olsen Senator|
|Scott Tannas Senator|
|David Tkachuk Senator|
|Betty Unger Senator|
|Total: 32 (24 MPs, 8 Senators)|
Conservative caucus endorsements, by MPs
|First Name||Last Name||Constituency||Province/ Territory||Support for Leader|
|Ziad||Aboultaif||Edmonton Manning||Alberta||Andrew Scheer|
|Dan||Albas||Central Okanagan- Similkameen-Nicola||British Columbia||Maxime Bernier|
|Dean||Allison||Niagara West||Ontario||Lisa Raitt|
|Rona||Ambrose||Sturgeon River-Parkland||Alberta||Staying neutral (interim leader)|
|David||Anderson||Cypress Hill-Grasslands||Saskatchewan||Andrew Scheer|
|Mel||Arnold||North Okanagan-Shuswap||British Columbia||Erin O’Toole|
|Candice||Bergen||Portage-Lisgar||Manitoba||Staying neutral (House leader)|
|Maxime||Bernier||Beauce||Quebec||Candidate supporting himself|
|Steven||Blaney||Bellechasse-Les Etchemins-Lévis||Quebec||Candidate supporting himself|
|Kelly||Block||Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek||Saskatchewan||Andrew Scheer|
|Sylvie||Boucher||Beauport-Côte-de-Beaupré-Île d’Orléans-Charlevoix||Quebec||Andrew Scheer|
|Gordon||Brown||Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes||Ontario||Staying neutral (chief opposition whip)|
|Blaine||Calkins||Red Deer-Lacombe||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Michael||Chong||Wellington-Halton Hills||Ontario||Candidate supporting himself|
|Tony||Clement||Parry Sound-Muskoka||Ontario||Maxime Bernier|
|Michael||Cooper||St. Albert-Edmonton||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Kerry||Diotte||Edmonton Griesbach||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Todd||Doherty||Cariboo-Prince George||British Columbia||Erin O’Toole|
|Earl||Dreeshen||Red Deer-Mountain View||Alberta|
|Ed||Fast||Abbotsford||British Columbia||Erin O’Toole|
|Diane||Finley||Haldimand-Norfolk||Ontario||Staying neutral (member of the Leadership Election Organization Committee)|
|Bernard||Généreux||Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup||Quebec||Staying neutral (Quebec caucus chair)|
|Garnett||Genuis||Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan||Alberta||Andrew Scheer|
|Joël||Godin||Portneuf-Jacques Cartier||Quebec||Announcing this week|
|Randy||Hoback||Prince Albert||Saskatchewan||Erin O’Toole|
|Matt||Jeneroux||Edmonton Riverbend||Alberta||Andrew Scheer|
|Pat||Kelly||Calgary Rocky Ridge||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Robert||Kitchen||Souris-Moose Mountain||Saskatchewan||Erin O’Toole|
|Tom||Kmiec||Calgary Shepard||Alberta||Maxime Bernier|
|Mike||Lake||Edmonton – Wetaskiwin||Alberta||Undecided|
|Guy||Lauzon||Stormont – Dundas – South Glengarry||Ontario||Kevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)|
|Denis||Lebel||Lac-Saint-Jean||Quebec||Staying neutral (deputy leader)|
|K. Kellie||Leitch||Simcoe-Grey||Ontario||Candidate supporting herself|
|Ron||Liepert||Calgary Signal Hill||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Tom||Lukiwski||Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan||Saskatchewan||Andrew Scheer|
|Dave||MacKenzie||Oxford||Ontario||Staying neutral (deputy opposition whip)|
|Kelly||McCauley||Edmonton West||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Cathy||McLeod||Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo||British Columbia||Erin O’Toole|
|Larry||Miller||Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound||Ontario||Staying neutral|
|Glen||Motz||Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Alexander||Nuttall||Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte||Ontario||Maxime Bernier|
|Deepak||Obhrai||Calgary Forest Lawn||Alberta||Candidate supporting himself|
|Erin||O’Toole||Durham||Ontario||Candidate supporting himself|
|Lisa||Raitt||Milton||Ontario||Candidate supporting herself|
|Michelle||Rempel||Calgary Nose Hill||Alberta|
|Andrew||Scheer||Regina-Qu’Appelle||Saskatchewan||Candidate supporting himself|
|Jamie||Schmale||Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock||Ontario||Erin O’Toole|
|Martin||Shields||Bow River||Alberta||Erin O’Toole|
|Robert||Sopuck||Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa||Manitoba||Erin O’Toole|
|Kevin||Sorenson||Battle River-Crowfoot||Alberta||Andrew Scheer|
|Bruce||Stanton||Simcoe North||Ontario||Lisa Raitt|
|Mark||Strahl||Chilliwack-Hope||British Columbia||Andrew Scheer|
|Brad||Trost||Saskatoon-University||Saskatchewan||Candidate supporting himself|
|Dave||Van Kesteren||Chatham-Kent-Leamington||Ontario||Staying neutral (Ontario caucus chair)|
|Peter||Van Loan||York-Simcoe||Ontario||Kellie Leitch|
|Arnold||Viersen||Peace River-Westlock||Alberta||Andrew Scheer|
|Mark||Warawa||Langley-Aldergrove||British Columbia||Andrew Scheer|
|Chris||Warkentin||Grande Prairie-Mackenzie||Alberta||Andrew Scheer (though officially neutral re: deputy opposition House leader)|
|Dianne L.||Watts||South Surrey-White Rock||British Columbia||Erin O’Toole|
|Len||Webber||Calgary Confederation||Alberta||Kevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)|
|Alice||Wong||Richmond Centre||British Columbia|
|David||Yurdiga||Fort McMurray-Cold Lake||Alberta||Kellie Leitch|
|Bob||Zimmer||Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies||British Columbia||Andrew Scheer|
Conservative caucus endorsements, by Senators
|First Name||Last Name||Province||Support for Leader|
|Norman E.||Doyle||Newfoundland and Labrador||Andrew Scheer|
|Tobias C. Jr.||Enverga||Ontario|
|Stephen||Greene||Nova Scotia||Maxime Bernier|
|Michael L.||MacDonald||Nova Scotia||Maxime Bernier|
|Fabian||Manning||Newfoundland and Labrador|
|Elizabeth||Marshall||Newfoundland and Labrador||Undecided|
|Thomas J.||McInnis||Nova Scotia|
|Paul E.||McIntyre||New Brunswick|
|Percy||Mockler||New Brunswick||Kevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)|
|Richard||Neufeld||British Columbia||Staying neutral|
|Thanh Hai||Ngo||Ontario||Maxime Bernier|
|Kelvin Kenneth||Ogilvie||Nova Scotia||Maxime Bernier|
|Dennis Glen||Patterson||Nunavut||Andrew Scheer|
|Donald Neil||Plett||Manitoba||Andrew Scheer|
|Nancy Greene||Raine||British Columbia||Erin O’Toole|
|Larry W.||Smith||Quebec||Maxime Bernier|
|Carolyn||Stewart Olsen||New Brunswick||Andrew Scheer|
|David M.||Wells||Newfoundland and Labrador||Kevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)|