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Less than a quarter of caucus undeclared in Conservative race, with a month to go

By Erica Giancola      

Nearly three-quarters of caucus has endorsed a candidate; Scheer and O’Toole are neck and neck. O'Leary, who had four caucus supporters, announced he's quitting the race and supporting Bernier.

Conservative MP Larry Miller is one of the still undeclared caucus members, dwindling by the day, though he says he's shortlisted Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole, Lisa Raitt, and Michael Chong. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

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.).

Conservative MP Mike Lake says he’s been approached by all leadership candidates for his vote. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

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

Maxime Bernier
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)
Steven Blaney
Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu Senator
Jean-Guy Dagenais Senator
Total: 2 (both Senators)
Michael Chong
Peter Kent MP
David Tilson MP
Victor Oh Senator
Total: 3 (2 MPs, 1 Senator)
Kellie Leitch
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)
Erin O’Toole
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)
Lisa Raitt
Dean Allison MP
Phil McColeman MP
Bruce Stanton MP
Judith Seidman Senator
Total: 4 (3 MPs, 1 Senator)
Andrew Scheer
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)
Brad Trost
Pierre Lemieux
Deepak Obhrai
Andrew Saxton
Rick Peterson
Chris Alexander

Conservative caucus endorsements, by MPs

First NameLast NameConstituencyProvince/ TerritorySupport for Leader
ZiadAboultaifEdmonton ManningAlbertaAndrew Scheer
DanAlbasCentral Okanagan- Similkameen-NicolaBritish ColumbiaMaxime Bernier
HaroldAlbrechtKitchener-ConestogaOntarioErin O’Toole
DeanAllisonNiagara WestOntarioLisa Raitt
RonaAmbroseSturgeon River-ParklandAlbertaStaying neutral (interim leader)
DavidAndersonCypress Hill-GrasslandsSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
MelArnoldNorth Okanagan-ShuswapBritish ColumbiaErin O’Toole
JohnBarlowFoothillsAlbertaAndrew Scheer
BobBenzenCalgary HeritageAlberta
CandiceBergenPortage-LisgarManitobaStaying neutral (House leader)
MaximeBernierBeauceQuebecCandidate supporting himself
LucBertholdMégantic-L’ÉrableQuebecAndrew Scheer
JamesBezanSelkirk-Interlake-EastmanManitobaErin O’Toole
StevenBlaneyBellechasse-Les Etchemins-LévisQuebecCandidate supporting himself
KellyBlockCarlton Trail-Eagle CreekSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
SylvieBoucherBeauport-Côte-de-Beaupré-Île d’Orléans-CharlevoixQuebecAndrew Scheer
JohnBrassardBarrie-InnisfilOntarioErin O’Toole
GordonBrownLeeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau LakesOntarioStaying neutral (chief opposition whip)
BlaineCalkinsRed Deer-LacombeAlbertaErin O’Toole
ColinCarrieOshawaOntarioErin O’Toole
MichaelChongWellington-Halton HillsOntarioCandidate supporting himself
AlupaClarkeBeauport-LimoilouQuebecMaxime Bernier
TonyClementParry Sound-MuskokaOntarioMaxime Bernier
MichaelCooperSt. Albert-EdmontonAlbertaErin O’Toole
G_rardDeltellLouis-Saint-LaurentQuebecErin O’Toole
KerryDiotteEdmonton GriesbachAlbertaErin O’Toole
ToddDohertyCariboo-Prince GeorgeBritish ColumbiaErin O’Toole
EarlDreeshenRed Deer-Mountain ViewAlberta
JimEglinskiYellowheadAlbertaErin O’Toole
TedFalkProvencherManitobaAndrew Scheer
EdFastAbbotsfordBritish ColumbiaErin O’Toole
DianeFinleyHaldimand-NorfolkOntarioStaying neutral (member of the Leadership Election Organization Committee)
BernardGénéreuxMontmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-LoupQuebecStaying neutral (Quebec caucus chair)
GarnettGenuisSherwood Park-Fort SaskatchewanAlbertaAndrew Scheer
MarilynGladuSarnia-LambtonOntarioAndrew Scheer
JoëlGodinPortneuf-Jacques CartierQuebecAnnouncing this week
JacquesGourdeLévis-LotbinièreQuebecMaxime Bernier
RachaelHarderLethbridgeAlbertaErin O’Toole
RandyHobackPrince AlbertSaskatchewanErin O’Toole
MattJenerouxEdmonton RiverbendAlbertaAndrew Scheer
PatKellyCalgary Rocky RidgeAlbertaErin O’Toole
PeterKentThornhillOntarioMichael Chong
RobertKitchenSouris-Moose MountainSaskatchewanErin O’Toole
TomKmiecCalgary ShepardAlbertaMaxime Bernier
StephanieKusieCalgary MidnaporeAlberta
MikeLakeEdmonton – WetaskiwinAlbertaUndecided
GuyLauzonStormont – Dundas – South GlengarryOntarioKevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)
DenisLebelLac-Saint-JeanQuebecStaying neutral (deputy leader)
K. KellieLeitchSimcoe-GreyOntarioCandidate supporting herself
RonLiepertCalgary Signal HillAlbertaErin O’Toole
BenLobbHuron-BruceOntarioKellie Leitch
TomLukiwskiMoose Jaw-Lake Centre-LaniganSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
DaveMacKenzieOxfordOntarioStaying neutral (deputy opposition whip)
LarryMaguireBrandon-SourisManitobaErin O’Toole
KellyMcCauleyEdmonton WestAlbertaErin O’Toole
PhilMcColemanBrantford-BrantOntarioLisa Raitt
CathyMcLeodKamloops-Thompson-CaribooBritish ColumbiaErin O’Toole
LarryMillerBruce-Grey-Owen SoundOntarioStaying neutral
GlenMotzMedicine Hat-Cardston-WarnerAlbertaErin O’Toole
RobNicholsonNiagara FallsOntario
AlexanderNuttallBarrie-Springwater-Oro MedonteOntarioMaxime Bernier
DeepakObhraiCalgary Forest LawnAlbertaCandidate supporting himself
ErinO’TooleDurhamOntarioCandidate supporting himself
PierrePaul-HusCharlesbourg-Haute-Saint-CharlesQuebecAndrew Scheer
LisaRaittMiltonOntarioCandidate supporting herself
AlainRayesRichmond-ArthabaskaQuebecAndrew Scheer
ScottReidLanark-Frontenac-KingstonOntarioAndrew Scheer
MichelleRempelCalgary Nose HillAlberta
BlakeRichardsBanff-AirdrieAlbertaErin O’Toole
GerryRitzBattlefords-LloydminsterSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
BobSaroyaMarkham-UnionvilleOntarioAndrew Scheer
AndrewScheerRegina-Qu’AppelleSaskatchewanCandidate supporting himself
JamieSchmaleHaliburton-Kawartha Lakes-BrockOntarioErin O’Toole
MartinShieldsBow RiverAlbertaErin O’Toole
BevShipleyLambton-Kent-MiddlesexOntarioErin O’Toole
RobertSopuckDauphin-Swan River-NeepawaManitobaErin O’Toole
KevinSorensonBattle River-CrowfootAlbertaAndrew Scheer
BruceStantonSimcoe NorthOntarioLisa Raitt
MarkStrahlChilliwack-HopeBritish ColumbiaAndrew Scheer
ShannonStubbsLakelandAlbertaAndrew Scheer
DavidTilsonDufferin-CaledonOntarioMichael Chong
BradTrostSaskatoon-UniversitySaskatchewanCandidate supporting himself
DaveVan KesterenChatham-Kent-LeamingtonOntarioStaying neutral (Ontario caucus chair)
PeterVan LoanYork-SimcoeOntarioKellie Leitch
KarenVecchioElgin-Middlesex-LondonOntarioErin O’Toole
ArnoldViersenPeace River-WestlockAlbertaAndrew Scheer
CathayWagantallYorkton-MelvilleSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
MarkWarawaLangley-AldergroveBritish ColumbiaAndrew Scheer
ChrisWarkentinGrande Prairie-MackenzieAlbertaAndrew Scheer (though officially neutral re: deputy opposition House leader)
Dianne L.WattsSouth Surrey-White RockBritish ColumbiaErin O’Toole
KevinWaughSaskatoon-GrasswoodSaskatchewanErin O’Toole
LenWebberCalgary ConfederationAlbertaKevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)
AliceWongRichmond CentreBritish Columbia
DavidYurdigaFort McMurray-Cold LakeAlbertaKellie Leitch
BobZimmerPrince George-Peace River-Northern RockiesBritish ColumbiaAndrew Scheer

Conservative caucus endorsements, by Senators

First NameLast NameProvinceSupport for Leader
DeniseBattersSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
LynnBeyakOntarioMaxime Bernier
Pierre-HuguesBoisvenuQuebecSteven Blaney
ClaudeCarignanQuebecMaxime Bernier
Jean-GuyDagenaisQuebecSteven Blaney
Norman E.DoyleNewfoundland and LabradorAndrew Scheer
NicoleEatonOntarioMaxime Bernier
Tobias C. Jr.EnvergaOntario
StephenGreeneNova ScotiaMaxime Bernier
LeoHousakosQuebecMaxime Bernier
Michael L.MacDonaldNova ScotiaMaxime Bernier
GhislainMaltaisQuebecMaxime Bernier
FabianManningNewfoundland and Labrador
ElizabethMarshallNewfoundland and LabradorUndecided
YonahMartinBritish Columbia
Thomas J.McInnisNova Scotia
Paul E.McIntyreNew Brunswick
PercyMocklerNew BrunswickKevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)
RichardNeufeldBritish ColumbiaStaying neutral
Thanh HaiNgoOntarioMaxime Bernier
Kelvin KennethOgilvieNova ScotiaMaxime Bernier
VictorOhOntarioMichael Chong
Dennis GlenPattersonNunavutAndrew Scheer
Donald NeilPlettManitobaAndrew Scheer
Rose-MayPoirierNew Brunswick
Nancy GreeneRaineBritish ColumbiaErin O’Toole
BobRuncimanOntarioErin O’Toole
JudithSeidmanQuebecLisa Raitt
Larry W.SmithQuebecMaxime Bernier
CarolynStewart OlsenNew BrunswickAndrew Scheer
ScottTannasAlbertaAndrew Scheer
DavidTkachukSaskatchewanAndrew Scheer
BettyUngerAlbertaAndrew Scheer
David M.WellsNewfoundland and LabradorKevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)

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