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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
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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 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
Harold Albrecht Kitchener-Conestoga Ontario Erin O’Toole
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
John Barlow Foothills Alberta Andrew Scheer
Bob Benzen Calgary Heritage Alberta
Candice Bergen Portage-Lisgar Manitoba Staying neutral (House leader)
Maxime Bernier Beauce Quebec Candidate supporting himself
Luc Berthold Mégantic-L’Érable Quebec Andrew Scheer
James Bezan Selkirk-Interlake-Eastman Manitoba Erin O’Toole
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
John Brassard Barrie-Innisfil Ontario Erin O’Toole
Gordon Brown Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes Ontario Staying neutral (chief opposition whip)
Blaine Calkins Red Deer-Lacombe Alberta Erin O’Toole
Colin Carrie Oshawa Ontario Erin O’Toole
Michael Chong Wellington-Halton Hills Ontario Candidate supporting himself
Alupa Clarke Beauport-Limoilou Quebec Maxime Bernier
Tony Clement Parry Sound-Muskoka Ontario Maxime Bernier
Michael Cooper St. Albert-Edmonton Alberta Erin O’Toole
G_rard Deltell Louis-Saint-Laurent Quebec 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
Jim Eglinski Yellowhead Alberta Erin O’Toole
Ted Falk Provencher Manitoba Andrew Scheer
Ed Fast Abbotsford British Columbia Erin O’Toole
Diane Finley Haldimand-Norfolk Ontario Staying neutral (member of the Leadership Election Organization Committee)
Cheryl Gallant Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Ontario
Bernard Généreux Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup Quebec Staying neutral (Quebec caucus chair)
Garnett Genuis Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan Alberta Andrew Scheer
Marilyn Gladu Sarnia-Lambton Ontario Andrew Scheer
Joël Godin Portneuf-Jacques Cartier Quebec Announcing this week
Jacques Gourde Lévis-Lotbinière Quebec Maxime Bernier
Rachael Harder Lethbridge Alberta Erin O’Toole
Randy Hoback Prince Albert Saskatchewan Erin O’Toole
Matt Jeneroux Edmonton Riverbend Alberta Andrew Scheer
Pat Kelly Calgary Rocky Ridge Alberta Erin O’Toole
Peter Kent Thornhill Ontario Michael Chong
Robert Kitchen Souris-Moose Mountain Saskatchewan Erin O’Toole
Tom Kmiec Calgary Shepard Alberta Maxime Bernier
Stephanie Kusie Calgary Midnapore Alberta
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
Ben Lobb Huron-Bruce Ontario Kellie Leitch
Tom Lukiwski Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan Saskatchewan Andrew Scheer
Dave MacKenzie Oxford Ontario Staying neutral (deputy opposition whip)
Larry Maguire Brandon-Souris Manitoba Erin O’Toole
Kelly McCauley Edmonton West Alberta Erin O’Toole
Phil McColeman Brantford-Brant Ontario Lisa Raitt
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
John Nater Perth-Wellington Ontario
Rob Nicholson Niagara Falls Ontario
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
Pierre Paul-Hus Charlesbourg-Haute-Saint-Charles Quebec Andrew Scheer
Pierre Poilievre Carleton Ontario
Lisa Raitt Milton Ontario Candidate supporting herself
Alain Rayes Richmond-Arthabaska Quebec Andrew Scheer
Scott Reid Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Ontario Andrew Scheer
Michelle Rempel Calgary Nose Hill Alberta
Blake Richards Banff-Airdrie Alberta Erin O’Toole
Gerry Ritz Battlefords-Lloydminster Saskatchewan Andrew Scheer
Bob Saroya Markham-Unionville Ontario Andrew Scheer
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
Bev Shipley Lambton-Kent-Middlesex Ontario 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
Shannon Stubbs Lakeland Alberta Andrew Scheer
David Sweet Flamborough-Glanbrook Ontario
David Tilson Dufferin-Caledon Ontario Michael Chong
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
Karen Vecchio Elgin-Middlesex-London Ontario Erin O’Toole
Arnold Viersen Peace River-Westlock Alberta Andrew Scheer
Cathay Wagantall Yorkton-Melville Saskatchewan 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
Kevin Waugh Saskatoon-Grasswood Saskatchewan 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
Raynell Andreychuk Saskatchewan
Salma Ataullahjan Ontario
Denise Batters Saskatchewan Andrew Scheer
Lynn Beyak Ontario Maxime Bernier
Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu Quebec Steven Blaney
Claude Carignan Quebec Maxime Bernier
Jean-Guy Dagenais Quebec Steven Blaney
Norman E. Doyle Newfoundland and Labrador Andrew Scheer
Nicole Eaton Ontario Maxime Bernier
Tobias C. Jr. Enverga Ontario
Linda Frum Ontario
Stephen Greene Nova Scotia Maxime Bernier
Leo Housakos Quebec Maxime Bernier
Daniel Lang Yukon
Michael L. MacDonald Nova Scotia Maxime Bernier
Ghislain Maltais Quebec Maxime Bernier
Fabian Manning Newfoundland and Labrador
Elizabeth Marshall Newfoundland and Labrador Undecided
Yonah Martin British Columbia
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
Victor Oh Ontario Michael Chong
Dennis Glen Patterson Nunavut Andrew Scheer
Donald Neil Plett Manitoba Andrew Scheer
Rose-May Poirier New Brunswick
Nancy Greene Raine British Columbia Erin O’Toole
Bob Runciman Ontario Erin O’Toole
Judith Seidman Quebec Lisa Raitt
Larry W. Smith Quebec Maxime Bernier
Carolyn Stewart Olsen New Brunswick Andrew Scheer
Scott Tannas Alberta Andrew Scheer
David Tkachuk Saskatchewan Andrew Scheer
Betty Unger Alberta Andrew Scheer
David M. Wells Newfoundland and Labrador Kevin O’Leary (dropped out April 26)
Vernon White Ontario

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