Conservative MP Candice Bergen, known for her efforts in ending the long-gun registry, says she is now considering a Tory leadership bid.
Ms. Bergen, who ran for the interim leader job that went to Rona Ambrose, said many of her rural Manitoba constituents are asking her to run and she has spent the summer thinking about it.
"I'm not closing the door," she said in an interview. "I'm kind of peeking through it and looking at what it would entail and what I would need to do to actually walk through that door."
If she runs, Ms. Bergen would be the third woman to add her name to the list of contenders to replace Stephen Harper, behind Ontario MP Kellie Leitch and Toronto consultant Adrienne Snow. Conservative MP Lisa Raitt, a former cabinet minister who represents the Greater Toronto Area riding of Milton, is also said to be considering a run and is seen as a serious contender.
Ms. Bergen, her party's natural resources critic, said she has never seen such "visceral dislike and disgust" in her Portage-Lisgar riding since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals were elected last October.
"I haven't seen Conservatives as fired up as they are right now," the three-term MP said.
She listed the Liberals' $29.4-billion-deficit spending plan, the decision to end air strikes against the Islamic State, spending "scandals" such as Health Minister Jane Philpott's $1,700-a day limo ride and a fear of higher taxes among residents' concerns.
So far, only four candidates have officially filed their leadership papers with the party: Ms. Leitch, Quebec MP Maxime Bernier and Ontario MPs Michael Chong and Tony Clement.
Many Conservatives are said to be waiting on former cabinet minister and purported front-runner Peter MacKay to make his decision on whether to run, which is expected soon.
Ms. Bergen, who is anti-abortion and fought fervently to end the long-gun registry in 2011, said she views the new Conservative Party as one that allows a "variety of views" on social issues within its ranks. At the party's convention in May, delegates voted to remove the traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman from its official policy.
Using Pride parades as an example, Ms. Bergen said the party should respect all views on the subject. "People who want to attend Pride parades, including my fellow MPs, should be supported and championed and celebrated for attending," she said.
"And millions of Canadians, including some MPs who don't attend, shouldn't be called names for not attending. I think that's the Conservative way, and I think that in social conservatism there's so much more tolerance than maybe they're given credit for."
When asked if she would be the type of leader to attend, Ms. Bergen said she's "not sure."
"I'm pro-life, and I've never attended a pro-life rally or march. I'm pro-Israel, I've never attended a pro-Israel march. I absolutely support LGBT rights and celebrate diversity, but I'm not sure if I would attend a march," she said.
"I think that there are millions of Canadians who wouldn't, but I don't think they are in any way, shape or form homophobic."
Possible leadership candidates also include Alberta MP Deepak Obhrai, Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost and Ontario MP Erin O'Toole.
Former Vancouver MP Andrew Saxton is testing the waters, defeated Ontario MP Pierre Lemieux is rounding up supporters and Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer, a former House of Commons Speaker, is considering a run. Winnipeg doctor Dan Lindsay has also declared his intention to run.
TV personality Kevin O'Leary is also considering a bid for leadership – although many feel he won't succeed because he can't speak French.
Candidates have until Feb. 24 to officially join the race, and a new leader will be chosen at the Conservative convention on May 27.