Ambrose emphasizes women, youth, immigrants in speech to Conservative convention
Josh Dehaas and Laura Payton, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, May 27, 2016 3:39PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 27, 2016 10:06PM EDT
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose used her speech Friday night at the Conservative convention to argue that her party needs to rebuild trust and “expand its reach.”
Ambrose told her fellow Tories in Vancouver that the party has a long history of welcoming women, ethnic minorities and young people.
“Almost six million Canadians cast ballots for our party in the last election,” she said. “But obviously it was not enough.”
Ambrose said Conservatives must remind voters that they are fighting for “ordinary working Canadians” while “the Liberals and NDP cater to elite opinion.”
“We are the voice of new Canadians who will come to Canada in the next few years ready to work,” she said, after pointing out that the party had the first MPs of African-Canadian, Muslim, Hindu, Chinese, Greek and Japanese descent.
Ambrose also said she wanted to “stress how important it is that we also reach out to young women.”
“You always hear that thing: ‘How can you possibly be a Conservative?’” she said. “'It’s the other parties who care about women, not Conservatives.'”
“That’s not even remotely true,” she said, adding that Conservatives “care about empowering every woman to pursue her dream,” whether it’s being a mother, working or doing both.
She also pointed out that Conservatives had the first female acting prime minister, the first female foreign minister and the first female prime minister.
“So, I say to Justin Trudeau,” she added. “Who’s the feminist now?”
Ambrose said the party is willing to consider “any and all ideas that advance (the party's) triple bottom line,” which she said comprises “liberty and freedom,” the importance of family, and that “free markets -- not the government -- are what generate prosperity.”
“We know that government didn’t invent the iPhone or revolutionize the taxi industry for that matter,” she added.
Ambrose finished her speech by noting that the party would have a new leader in one year.
“Standing here as the leader of this incredible party is one of the greatest honours of my life,” she said.
Rona can’t run
Conservatives pushing to let interim leader Rona Ambrose run for the full leadership failed earlier on Friday in their attempt to change the party's rules.
Delegates, including Conservative MP Scott Reid, had put forward a resolution that would have changed the ban on interim leaders running to lead the party, citing Ambrose's popularity and strong work so far helming the Official Opposition.
Ambrose repeatedly said, publicly and privately, that she wasn't interested in taking over the full-time job from former leader Stephen Harper.
Party insiders had said any changes made to the Conservative constitution this weekend wouldn't apply to the ongoing leadership race.
MPs Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch have officially joined the race.
Other potential candidates include bigger name Conservatives such as former cabinet ministers Tony Clement, Jason Kenney, Lisa Raitt and Peter MacKay.
Businessman Kevin O’Leary said he will either run or try to be “kingmaker.”
MacKay, a former defence minister, said he's interested in running for Conservative Party leader but is still deciding.
"I have two kids at home that I think need me at this point in their life," MacKay said in an interview with Don Martin, host of CTV News Channel's Power Play. "I'm blessed with a very supportive spouse who's doing the heavy lifting at home, and so those have to be the primary considerations towards any thought of returning to politics."
MacKay said he still considers himself a recovering politician and the seven months since he stepped down from the House of Commons may not have been long enough to think about a return. But he says he's encouraged that delegates at the convention seem interested in having him run.
"I'm not there yet is sort of what I would say at this point. But I'm interested, I'm here, I'm encouraged by what I've heard.”
CTV News correspondents are live-tweeting from the convention. Follow along below in our live blog: