Rempel still toying with leadership bid as Western alienation looms
OTTAWA -- Conservative MP Michelle Rempel says she hasn’t ruled out a leadership bid namely because Western Canada isn’t being represented among those who’ve already put their names forward.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Friday before the party’s caucus meeting, the Calgary-based MP said her main concern is ensuring her riding and her province feel accounted for.
"There are a lot of people in my province and Western Canada writ-large that feel very alienated and are questioning even if we had a change of government if there’s a place for our part of the country in the federation long-term," said Rempel.
The group of contenders who’ve announced their intent to run thus far remains small – with former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and Ontario MP Erin O’Toole garnering the most profile.
On Thursday, MP Pierre Poilievre pulled out of the race, citing his family as the reason for bowing out.
"Enough is enough, we are right on the verge of having a serious Western separatist party, it’s viable, it’s right there,” said Rempel. "I don’t think that’s being precipitated out of our leadership race."
Rempel says the leadership race can’t be a "popularity contest," rather it has to be about substantial policy discussion and changes to party governance.
"Whatever I decide in the future, that has to be answered for me and you know what, I feel those aren’t unreasonable demands."
On the issue of social conservatism and where it fits in the party going forward, Rempel – who’s been vocal about her support for LGBTQ rights – said she’s ready to move beyond those types of discussions.
In an interview on CTV’s Power Play this week, prospective leadership candidate Richard Decarie voiced that he believes being gay is “a choice” and that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman.
"I am very, very tired – beyond tired –of my party being hijacked by this type of bigotry," said Rempel.
She said she plans to ask the leadership organizing committee, co-chaired by former deputy leader Lisa Raitt and past chair Dan Nowlan, to disqualify him based on those statements.
"If he had made those statements as a candidate during the federal election he would have been turfed, so why should he be allowed to run?" she said.
Decarie has not officially registered as a candidate but his team said "it won’t be long" before he enters. Former leadership contender Brad Trost is chairing his campaign.
Ontario-based MP Michael Chong, who ran for leadership in 2017, said he’s also still pondering the move to throw his hat in the ring.
"I’ll be making a decision next week. Obviously the events of the last couple of days have meant that we’ve got a rapidly evolving situation but I’ve talked to a lot of people over the last six weeks or so and so this weekend I’ll be sitting down [with my wife] and our three boys and we’ll make a decision together."
He added that social conservatives are a welcome segment of the party but that Decarie’s comments don’t reflect the views of "many" in the group.