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Who’s in, who’s out and who else could join the Conservative party leadership race

OTTAWA — With Sept. 10 chosen as the date when the Conservative Party of Canada will have a new leader, time is ticking for prospective candidates and their teams to get into place.

OTTAWA — With Sept. 10 chosen as the date when the Conservative Party of Canada will have a new leader, time is ticking for prospective candidates and their teams to get into place. Would-be leaders have until April 19 to throw their hat into the ring and until June 3 to sell memberships.

Here’s a look at the contest so far:

Who’s in?

Pierre Poilievre: The 42-year-old longtime Ottawa-area MP declared his candidacy just days after former leader Erin O’Toole was ousted. He has begun fundraising and holding events in Quebec, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Maritimes. One of his chief promises is to cancel the federal carbon tax.

Leslyn Lewis: The third-place finisher in the 2020 leadership race is running again. In the past contest, the former Bay Street lawyer enjoyed heavy backing from the party’s social conservative members and those in Western Canada. She was elected as an MP last fall in the rural southwestern Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk.

Roman Baber: The independent member of the Ontario legislature was booted from the Progressive Conservative caucus by Premier Doug Ford for speaking out against COVID-19 lockdowns in January 2021. He says he was the first candidate in the race to do so and he also wants to stand up to cancel culture.

Jean Charest: The former Quebec premier who led the federal Progressive Conservatives in the mid-1990s is jumping back into politics after formally launching his campaign in Calgary. He’s running the under slogan “Built to Win.” Charest, 63, is highlighting his years of experience to party members.

Patrick Brown: The mayor of Brampton, Ont., and former leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives entered the race March 13 at a launch in the Greater Toronto Area. He previously served as an MP. He pitched a bigger Conservative tent, with plans to rebuild trust with members of Canada’s “cultural communities.”

Joseph Bourgault: The businessman from rural Saskatchewan announced he’s running for the leadership in a short Facebook video. An accompanying website says his platform includes the promise of eliminating all COVID-19 mandates and the “carbon tax.” The website says Bourgault also co-founded Canadians for Truth, Freedom and Justice, an organization that claims governments and “globalists” are using the pandemic to “justify the great reset.”

Scott Aitchison: The two-term Ontario MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka launched his campaign on Sunday, March 20. Before being elected as in 2019, he was the mayor of Huntsville, Ont. Most recently, he served as the Conservative labour critic.

Marc Dalton: The MP for Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge in British Columbia launched his campaign on Twitter on Sunday, March 20. Dalton was first elected federally in 2019. A former teacher, he also served as a B.C. Liberal MLA from 2009 to 2017.

Leona Alleslev: The former Ontario MP has launched a campaign website after considering a bid, but hasn't officially announced her intention to run. Alleslev joined the Conservatives in 2018, after crossing the floor from the Liberals. She was the party’s deputy leader under former leader Andrew Scheer.

Joel Etienne: The Conservative candidate for York Centre in the 2021 federal election has a campaign website and is collecting signatures for nomination papers, but has not officially announced his candidacy. He's a lawyer with a background in human rights and commercial law.

Who’s out:

Peter MacKay: The cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government says he’s decided not to run for leadership this time. He placed second to O’Toole in the 2020 leadership race in a contest many felt he was likely to win. MacKay is still fundraising to pay down his debts from that contest, and says he will support whoever wins this time around.

Michael Chong: The longtime Ontario MP ran in 2017 and says after reflection, "now is not the time" to run again. Chong says he wants to focus on his role as the party’s foreign affairs critic.

Tasha Kheiriddin: The political commentator and consultant said after considering a bid, she decided against running and instead threw her support behind Charest’s campaign.

Rona Ambrose: The party’s last interim leader, who was also a cabinet minister in the Harper government, says she’s not going to run despite many Tories hoping that she would.

Brad Wall: Saskatchewan’s former premier says he’s enjoying life in the private sector and won’t be returning to elected politics.

Doug Ford: The Ontario premier says his hands are full running for re-election provincially in June.

Jason Kenney: The former MP and high-profile cabinet minister in the Harper government says he’s not interested in going after the party’s top job. He's currently premier of Alberta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2022

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press