Bergen, Rempel Garner aren't ruling out Conservative leadership bid
OTTAWA -- Two high-profile female Conservative MPs say they aren’t dismissing the idea of running for party leader now that Andrew Scheer has announced he’ll resign.
Tory House Leader Candice Bergen and critic for industry and economic development Michelle Rempel Garner, both long-serving caucus members, said while it’s "too soon" to formally put their names forward, they aren’t ruling it out.
"It says a lot about our party that we have all these women that are qualified to run. I hope none of us self-deselect and we take time to reflect on what our visions are and move forward form there," said Rempel Garner during an interview on CTV’s Question Period.
Bergen added that Rempel Garner, former deputy Conservative leader Lisa Raitt, and herself have shown leadership in the party not only in terms of rank, but also in more subtle, symbolic ways.
"I’m glad we’re being thought about and considered and talked about, but it is very, very early," said Bergen.
Scheer announced on Thursday he would be stepping down as leader, but would remain on in an interim basis until the party selects someone new to helm the Conservatives. Several names have been bounced around by strategists and commentators, but no one has formally put their name forward.
Raitt, for her part, concluded she is defiantly “out” of the running because it isn’t "her time." However, she has a strong sense of who she’d like to see fill that role – notably someone who has a specific set of communication skills.
"I want to see someone who can sell whatever vision we come up with and I want to see somebody as well who has the ability to deal with accusations that are not factual and make sure they have a strategy to ensure these accusations stop," said Raitt, who also appeared on Question Period on Sunday.
Rempel Garner, who has been vocal that debates on social issues like abortion or same-sex marriage are damaging to the party, said she’d welcome a leader who will “champion” the rights of all Canadians.
"That includes members of the LGBTQ community," she said. "We have an obligation to hold the government to account for failures to that community and that requires a leader who is going to get up on issues like the blood ban."
In 2015, the Trudeau Liberals pledged to end the ban preventing gay men from donating blood. Health Canada approved a request by Canadian Blood Services in May 2019 to lower the ban from one year to three months after sex. Also this year, the government recommitted to removing the ban entirely.
Bergen, on the other hand, noted she’s comfortable with a social conservative at the helm if they’re transparent about their position and remain true to party values.
Both sitting members are pleased Scheer has decided to remain leader until the party chooses his successor.
"I am glad that we have some stability in terms of him staying on as interim leader," said Rempel Garner.
"We are very, very happy with that," Bergen added.
They’d also like to see a relatively speedy leadership race, with someone at the helm by the summer.