The Conservative Party of Canada has announced that May 27, 2017 will be the date they elect a new leader to permanently replace Stephen Harper.
In a release issued Tuesday morning, the chair of the leadership election organizing committee, Dan Nowlan, said the date “will allow for a time frame that not just provides an exciting and competitive race for our members and all Canadians, but keeps it an open and fair contest for all potential candidates.”
The party is currently being led on an interim basis by Rona Ambrose, who beat out seven other contenders for the job last year. Former prime minister Harper remains a sitting MP for Calgary Southwest.
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There has been widespread speculation about who might seek to replace Harper, who remains the only permanent leader elected in the party’s history. The most likely contenders from within the current crop of Conservative MPs include Kellie Leitch, who has confirmed her intention to run, Tony Clement, Lisa Raitt and Maxime Bernier. Former ministers Jason Kenney and Peter MacKay are also rumoured to be considering possible candidacies.
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Then there are the wild cards. Tuesday’s release seemed to open up the field to a wide variety of possible candidates. Canadian businessman and former Dragon’s Den star Kevin O’Leary made waves last week when he suggested that he might consider running.
The Conservatives must still set the ground rules for the nomination process and the eventual election of a new leader. The party is expected to hold a policy convention in Vancouver May 26-28.