Ballots for the Conservative leadership election are being mailed out this week, with party members having until August 21 to mail in their choices.
Doppler asked current Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison and former MP Tony Clement, who represented Parry Sound-Muskoka from 2006-2019, to weigh in on who they will be supporting. Their responses are below, along with brief bios on the other two candidates, in alphabetical order.
Lewis is a Toronto-area lawyer with a PhD in law and a master’s in environmental science. She is the first woman to be confirmed as an official leadership candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada.
Aitchison on his support for candidate Peter MacKay:
The race for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada is reaching a fever pitch now as ballots are being printed and mailed out to party members over the coming days. Of the four candidates who are running for the top job, I have chosen to support Peter MacKay.
I support Peter because I truly do believe he can build our party into a coalition of Canadians with sound policies and strong direction to form an effective government that gets Canada back on track. A government that is reflective of the hopes and dreams of Canadians.
While I agree with Peter on many issues and I support his vision of a stronger, more resilient Canada, it was not just the issues that sold me on him to be our next leader. Leadership is not a collection of policies or great debating skills or even a great resume. Great leaders don’t have all the answers and they are not afraid to be corrected.
This is something that I never fully understood until I was a mayor. After a few months in the position I realized that I was stressed and overwhelmed by my desire to be the perfect mayor. I was lucky that there were people around me who helped me through that time. They gave me the support to step back and see that while I was trying to ‘do it all’, I was actually failing at what I had always wanted to be.
Empowering my council colleagues, encouraging staff to take on new challenges, inspiring children and young adults, celebrating our collective successes as a community, motivating our business community by inspiring confidence in our municipality and rallying our community to common purpose – this was my role as a leader.
True leaders facilitate progress and achievement through their ability to inspire greatness from everyone around them. True leaders empower their colleagues and galvanise the team around them to a common purpose. This is Peter MacKay. When you meet Peter or speak to him in even the most stressful of situations, he instills confidence with his calm and steady demeanor in describing practical solutions to challenges while also seeking input in the process.
For these reasons and more I am honoured to support Peter in his run for leader. I know we will work as a team for the constituents of Parry Sound-Muskoka and all of Canada. While Peter has an impressive resume participating at the cabinet table in a number of roles his leadership style is what convinced me that he is absolutely the right person to lead us now.
I know Peter has the right combination of experience, skills, common sense and respectability that our party needs, and our country needs in a prime minister. I believe that Peter has the capacity to help Conservative candidates win not only in western provinces and rural ridings, but also in Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
We also need to win seats in places like the GTA, Montreal and Vancouver. I believe that Peter MacKay is the most capable candidate to build support in these urban centres while not forgetting the crucially important issues we face in rural Canada.
Peter believes that we need to build a more self-reliant and more independent Canada. He believes that we can do this if our federal government prioritizes national projects such as rural broadband, energy, making real progress in our relationship with First Nations and removing barriers to sustainable investment in Canadian industry for job creation.
Peter believes that we need a real climate plan – one that doesn’t simply impose a tax that is particularly punitive on farmers and rural Canadians, but a response to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that is as serious and realistic as when the Conservative government tackled the acid rain problem in the 1980s and 1990s.
Peter believes that we must get federal finances in order so that we are better prepared for future economic shocks and so that the taxes you pay provide the services you need instead of servicing mounting debt. Peter fully supports equipping our armed forces to ensure their capacity to protect our country while also serving Canadian interests with our international partners.
Peter MacKay embodies true leadership. I am inspired by his passion for Canada, his desire to build a strong united Conservative Party and his ambition to arouse the resiliency and creativity of all Canadians to the great common cause of a better Canada today, and an even better Canada for our children and grandchildren.
Clement on his support for Erin O’Toole:
No one can argue that a lot has changed in the past year. Fresh off the SNC Lavalin scandal and economic storm clouds, the Liberal Party under Prime Minister Trudeau looked vulnerable in the 2019 general election. With new leader Andrew Scheer, Conservatives could hope to convince Canadians they were ready to govern again. Alas, it was not to be. Mr Scheer’s internal contradictions piled up, and an inability to connect with Ontarians and Quebeckers in particular meant that, despite the party running up the score in the West, the Liberals scored the plurality of seats in last October’s election. Scheer resigned shortly thereafter.
Now, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, an important national dialogue on race and social justice, and the worst economic decline since the Great Depression, 269,000 Conservative Party members get to choose a leader. As someone who has run for the leadership in the past, along with serving as MP and in cabinet, I want to commend the four candidates who are running. Not an easy endeavour in the best of times, which these are not.
I want to give you the reasons why I’m helping my friend Erin O’Toole. I know all the candidates, and I have worked with Peter MacKay for decades. Yet I’m convinced Erin is the best choice right now. He’s an experienced Conservative who has the right ideas for Canada’s future. Most important, as an already-elected MP who’s won three times in his GTA seat, he has what it takes to speak to Canadians and convince them their future is better secured by voting Conservative.
Before being elected MP, Erin served in the military. As a member of the Canadian Forces Air Command he served our country. Then he became a successful lawyer in Toronto and was co-founder of the True Patriot Love Foundation, helping Canada’s veterans. He’s the most bilingual of the candidates on offer. Erin is married to Rebecca and has two children.
I served with Erin in Parliament and in cabinet and I can attest to his abilities. He’s shown around the cabinet table an ability to get things done, and to be intelligent and compassionate. His comprehensive policy positions show him to be a solid and modern conservative. Ahead of the curve he warned of the government of China’s malevolent behaviour and how Canada should resist joining Huawei’s 5G network. He’s led on the need to understand Canada’s history but not to erase it by statue-toppling. He’s a fiscal conservative. And he’s put together a serious climate change plan that focuses on results versus virtue signalling. Full details on Erin’s experience and his policy positions can be found via the link below.
Erin has the most endorsements of elected officials across Canada, including 36 MPs and Premier Jason Kenney. (Premier Ford has not endorsed any candidate). He’ll bring the Conservative Party together after he’s elected leader, and immediately hold the Trudeau Government to account in the Fall Sitting of Parliament. He’ll start immediately to create a modern and effective team of people to win the next election, whenever it may be. He’s run a serious, error-free campaign for Leader and gained massive support in Quebec after the French language debate. This augurs well for the next general election campaign, because Conservatives need to run excellent campaigns given certain structural disadvantages, made worse by Trudeau’s subsidies to Canadian media.
We are in a battle for the soul of the Conservative Party. We need a True Blue Conservative who has what it takes to beat Justin Trudeau without compromising. That is what Erin O’Toole represents and why I support him without qualification for Leader and Prime Minister.
Derek Sloan was elected as MP in 2019 to represent the riding of Hastings—Lennox and Addington.
Photo of Leslyn Lewis by John Balca, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 / cropped from original. Photo of Peter MacKay by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / cropped from original. Photo of Erin O’Toole by Manning Centre, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY 2.0 / cropped from original. Photo of Derek Sloan, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 / cropped from original.