Rona Ambrose not running for Conservative leadership
OTTAWA -- Former cabinet minister Rona Ambrose is not running for the Conservative leadership.
Ambrose made the announcement in a video on Facebook Wednesday afternoon, saying she "struggled" with the decision.
"Right now, I'm focused on making a difference through the private sector," Ambrose said.
"I know that we will choose a strong, compassionate person to lead us, who supports all families. A leader who unleashes the potential of the private sector and Canadian ingenuity through low taxes and less regulation, who defends universal human rights and principled foreign policy."
Ambrose added that, more than anything, the Conservative party needs to choose a leader "who understands the job is about serving -- serving all Canadians."
"I know we'll choose a good leader and I’ll be there to support her -- or him," Ambrose said.
Her decision comes after weeks of pressure from Conservative heavyweights who have said they'd love to see her run for leader. After outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced his intention to step down, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told Calgary Herald's Don Braid that when it comes to the leadership, "Rona would be [his] first call."
Ambrose, who was the interim leader of the Conservatives after Stephen Harper stepped down in 2015, has also received unsolicited messages of support from former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.
"It is humbling to be considered at all, because I love our party, I love the people in it and I love our country," Ambrose said.
Ambrose said that beyond continuing her work in the private sector, she also plans to continue advocating for a law to be enacted to mandate judicial sexual assault law training. She had fought for such a law while she was in Parliament, but the legislative clock ran out and it died in the Senate.
Her announcement comes after two hopefuls have already ducked out of the race. Former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Conservative organizer Bryan Brulotte have both dropped out, citing in part the race's tight rules.
Contenders must gather signatures of 3,000 supporters by March 25. The supporters will have to have been party members for 21 days before signing a hopeful's leadership nomination papers. The race also requires candidates to pay a $200,000 entry fee and a $100,000 compliance deposit.
CTV News has also confirmed Conservative MPs Pierre Poilievre and Erin O'Toole both plan to enter the race, and Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu has already announced her plans to run.
Rookie MP Derek Sloan is also running for leadership.
Hopefuls have until Feb. 27 to submit their applications.