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Prime Minister Stephen Harper (File)

Debate is growing within the leaderless Conservative Party about how long to wait before picking a new chief, sources say.

Some Tories are urging party brass to put it off for as long as two years, while others advocate for concluding a race for a permanent leader by the middle of 2016.

"I would say there are 100,000 different views," one senior Conservative Party source said.

"In a majority Liberal government, there's no real rush. At the same time, you want to give a new leader time to establish themselves. You also want to be able to continue to raise money, and that's not as easy to do with an interim leader as it is to do with a permanent leader."

The Tories are set to pick an interim leader next week in Ottawa when the Conservative caucus meets on Nov. 5.

Stephen Harper, who remains an MP, will deliver remarks, and defeated Conservative MPs have been invited.

The 99 MPs will have a big decision to make right off the bat: whether to allow more than 45 Conservative senators to have a say in who is chosen as interim leader.

Under the Conservative Party's constitution, senators get a vote in the selection of interim leader. But the recently passed Reform Act, sponsored by Conservative MP Michael Chong, stipulates that only MPs, who are elected, unlike senators, should get to decide.

The new Tory Commons caucus will have to vote on whether to operate under the rules of the Conservative constitution or the Reform Act. Their decision will have a substantial impact on the size of the voting pool for interim leader.

The candidates include Ontario MPs Diane Finley and Erin O'Toole, both ministers in Mr. Harper's government. Manitoba MP Candice Bergen, who helped kill the long-gun registry, is also running. Rob Nicholson, who served as Foreign Affairs minister most recently, is also expected to seek the caretaker job.

One of the first decisions the party must make in the months ahead is whether to postpone a Conservative convention booked for next May in Vancouver.

Postponing it would give candidates for the permanent leadership more time to marshal support.

"It's unlikely we would have two conventions inside one year," the Conservative Party source said.

No Conservative has yet announced their candidacy for the permanent job. Potential candidates include former Harper lieutenant Jason Kenney as well as Maxime Bernier, a Quebec minister in the Conservative government known for his libertarian views.

Conservative insiders are not ruling out Peter MacKay, who announced his retirement from Team Harper months ago.

Other cabinet ministers in the outgoing Conservative government who are considering a run include Transport Minister Lisa Raitt; Tony Clement, Treasury Board President; Kellie Leitch, Labour Minister; and Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, who has publicly debated on Twitter the merits of launching a bid.

The Conservative Party has appointed a leadership election organizing committee to set the rules for a campaign. It currently has three members, including party president John Walsh, vice-president Cameron McKeen, and Michael Lauer, secretary of the party's National Council.

The National Council – the main governing body of the Conservative Party – is to meet on Dec. 4 and will start adding more people to the leadership election committee at that time.

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