Being a Calgary MP will be a huge handicap for those hoping to win the title of federal Conservative party leader, according to one Mount Royal political scientist.
The party’s leadership race is now on, with a new leader to be elected on May 27, 2017. So far only three candidates, Ontario MPs Kellie Leitch and Michael Chong, and Quebec MP Maxime Bernier, have officially put their names forward for the title.
Calgary Midnapore MP Jason Kenney and Calgary Nose Hill MP Michelle Rempel are both expected to run, but political scientist Keith Brownsey says, Conservative party members will be asking themselves if they want another leader from Alberta’s largest city.
“They’ve just had 10 years, well more like 14 years, of Stephen Harper as their leader. There are regional concerns here,” Brownsey said. “I think a wide majority will say, ‘No, we don’t want another leader there. We have to show voters in Canada that we’re a regionally diverse party, that we can elect people from Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and of course from Ontario. And that would show the Canadian voters that we do represent all regions of the country.'”
When it comes to the chances for some other possible candidates, Brownsey says entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary may have shown some interest and even have support from right-wing voters, but it’s unlikely he’ll get very far.
“It’s a question of organization within the party, and Mr. O’Leary doesn’t have that base within the party that a Jason Kenney does, that a Peter MacKay does, that a Tony Clement, or even a Maxime Bernier does within the Conservative party,” he said. “It would be very difficult, in a very different circumstance, for a Kevin O’Leary to win the leadership of the Conservative party, despite his popularity among Conservative voters.”
O’Leary made headlines earlier this year when he promised Canadian oil $1 million if Alberta Premier Rachel Notley were to resign.
Brownsey calls Chong a dark horse, and says Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will also be an interesting candidate to watch, if he decides to enter the race.