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Ex-Harper minister first to run for Conservative leadership

By Tim Harper      

Kellie Leitch may have a long climb into the first tier of the Conservative race, but she can draw on a well of support from networks established by her late friend and mentor, Jim Flaherty, and all the way back to the days of former Ontario premier Mike Harris.

The move allows Kellie Leitch to formally establish an exploratory committee, to be co-chaired by Toronto lawyer Sander Grieve and Montreal party activist Dany Renauld. Her chief fundraiser will be Andy Pringle, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board and long-time friend to Mayor John Tory. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

OTTAWA—Former cabinet minister Kellie Leitch has become the first official candidate to replace Stephen Harper as Conservative leader, sounding the starting gun on a race that will stretch over 13 months. Leitch presented her papers, with the required 300-plus signatures over 30 ridings in seven provinces, to the party and another former Conservative minister, Maxime Bernier, is also poised to make his run official. Leitch and Bernier may be running from the back of the pack, but both

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