Conservatives have 'never been more united,' Kenney says at convention
Dario Balca, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, May 29, 2016 1:44PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 29, 2016 1:45PM EDT
Conservative MP Jason Kenney said the prevailing sentiment at this weekend’s Conservative convention in Vancouver was one of unity.
“This is a great achievement of Stephen Harper,” Kenney told CTV’s Question Period. “The Conservative Party has never been more united after an election defeat than it is now, which is remarkable given the history of internal conflict.
“I have to admit I didn’t expect this to be a fun convention,” the former cabinet minister said. “I thought it would be a bit more like a wake.”
Kenney, who spoke alongside former minister of transportation Lisa Raitt, said this gives him confidence in the party’s ability to form a majority government in the next election.
Following a historic 78-day campaign last year, the Conservatives lost a total of 89 seats in October’s election. The Liberals, meanwhile, won a total of 184 seats, giving the party’s its first election win since 2004.
On Sunday, both Kenney and Raitt said the election loss taught them valuable lessons about what the party needs to do if it hopes to win in the future. In particular, the loss showed them where the party needs to make gains, they said.
Raitt pointed out that the Tories didn’t win many female voters, and Kenney added that young voters made up a significant chunk of lost votes.
“If there are strategic reasons why we lost this election it was the collapse of the NDP, and a significant number of first-time voters, typically under the age of 30,” Kenney said.
During the convention, interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose also argued that the party needs to “expand its reach.”
In a speech on Friday night, Ambrose said the party has a long history of welcoming women, ethnic minorities and young people into its fold.
“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 stressed “how important it is” that the party reach out to young women. She pointed out that the Tories had the first female acting prime minister, the first female foreign minister, and the first female prime minister.
The Conservative Party will select a new leader in May of 2017. MPs Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch have already launched their leadership campaigns.
Neither Raitt nor Kenney have said if they plan to run.
With files from CTV News’ Laura Payton and Josh Dehaas