Legion hosts Tory leadership candidates

Marc Benoit, Special to TC Media
Legion hosts Tory leadership candidates
Former Harper cabinet minister

CORNWALL, Ontario – As the race ramps up to replace our former Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper, half of the declared candidates made their way to Cornwall the morning of Saturday, Nov.19. The Conservative riding association organized a breakfast for the leadership contenders and local supporters. The event had around 300 attendees, who were treated to a breakfast supplied by the Royal Canadian Legion.

Twelve candidates have formally entered the race for leader of the Conservative Party. Only six of the official twelve made their way to the Cornwall for Saturday’s breakfast. Not in attendance were perceived front runners Andrew Scheer, who leads in caucus endorsements and Maxime Bernier, who is leading the pack in fundraising.

Many of the names to take to the stage at the Royal Canadian Legion are familiar to Canadians who paid attention to the Harper Government. Lisa Raitt, Chris Alexander, Brad Trost, Kellie Leitch, Steven Blaney, and Michael Chong all spoke to the crowd, presenting the core message of their platforms, or recalling fond memories of visiting Cornwall and their work alongside the MP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry (SDSG), Guy Lauzon.

“I’m just so satisfied with the event,” said Lauzon. “They spoke so well, and I’m so proud of them…each and everyone of those candidates is more qualified than the current Prime Minister. It’s so hard to decided because we have twelve candidates, and it’s just beginning and it’s going to be so exciting.”

Lauzon has served as chairman of the Conservative Caucus since 2008, when the Harper led Conservative Party edged out its second minority government.

With six candidates taking the stage, a wide range of issues for many conservatives were presented at the podium. The most recent proposals to gain popular attention have been Kellie Leitch’s, following the election of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

“When we have the opportunity to have that face-to-face interview, that person has the opportunity to learn to more about us,” said Kellie Leitch, who gained national attention during the 2015 election campaign for her advocacy of a barbaric practices snitch-line. Her campaign has decided to focus largely on social conservative issues surrounding Canadian identity.

“What a warm welcome! Guy out-did himself making sure that some of his constituents would have a chance to speak with some of the candidates,” said MP Lisa Raitt, who served under several portfolios during the Harper Government.

“We are proposing one of the largest income tax cuts in history,” said MP for Wellinton-Halton Hills, Michael Chong. Chong gained national attention for his reform bill, which would have limited the power of the Prime Minister in relation to Parliament. The Conservative Party did pass Chong’s bill, but with amendments which softened many of Chong’s stances on improving democratic institutions in Canada.

All members of the Conservative Party of Canada who intend to vote for leader must be members in good standing by March of 2017, and have been members for six months. The direction which the Conservatives go following their electoral defeat a little over one year ago could have serious implications on the lives of not only Canadians who support the Tories, but also the the Liberals and NDP. The final tally is scheduled for May 27, 2017.

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