Who he is: Mr. MacKay, 54, was a Nova Scotia MP who led the old Progressive Conservative party and brokered its merger with the Canadian Alliance in the early 2000s. He served in some of Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s top cabinet posts – foreign affairs, defence and justice – but decided not to run again in 2015′s election, which the Conservatives lost. He went to work at the Toronto law firm Baker McKenzie, but after (and even during) Andrew Scheer’s 2019 election campaign, his supporters were laying the groundwork to have Mr. MacKay challenge the leadership again. A few weeks after Mr. Scheer announced his plans to resign, Mr. MacKay tweeted “I’m in. Stay tuned,” and two weeks after that, he made it official at a launch event in Stellarton, N.S.
His team: Mr. MacKay hired former Conservative MP Alex Nuttall as campaign manager, and enlisted the services of Rubicon Strategy Inc., a government relations and marketing firm founded by Conservative strategist Kory Teneycke (who said he would remain neutral in the leadership contest).
His policies: Like Mr. Scheer, Mr. MacKay opposes the federal carbon tax, which the Trudeau government introduced in provinces that don’t have their own carbon-pricing or cap-and-trade regimes to bring greenhouse gas emissions down.
Who he is: Mr. O’Toole, 46, is a former military officer and lawyer who entered the House of Commons in a 2012 by-election for the Ontario riding of Durham. He was briefly Stephen Harper’s veterans’ affairs minister, and finished third in the 2017 race to replace Mr. Harper as leader. He launched his 2020 leadership campaign from Calgary on Jan. 27, appealing to the party’s western base to “unite Conservatives on the path to victory.”
His team: Mr. O’Toole’s campaign is being managed by Fred DeLorey, who also organized Mr. O’Toole’s leadership bid in 2017. Jeff Ballingall, founder of the far-right Ontario Proud and Canada Proud websites, is senior communications strategist.
His policies: He also opposes the carbon tax.
Other official contenders
- Marilyn Gladu: A chemical engineer who won the Ontario seat of Sarnia-Lambton for the Conservatives in 2015, and was re-elected last year. In the House, she’s been the Conservatives’ critic for health and science.
- Rudy Husny: A twice-unsuccessful Conservative candidate in the Montreal riding of Outremont who worked from 2011 to 2015 as senior adviser to Ed Fast, Mr. Harper’s International Trade minister.
- Jim Karahalios: An anti-carbon-tax activist and lawyer whose wife, Belinda Karahalios, is a rookie Progressive Conservative MPP in Ontario.
- Leslyn Lewis: A Toronto-based lawyer who ran unsuccessfully as a Conservative in a Scarborough riding in 2015′s federal election.
- Rick Peterson: An Albertan businessman who’s tried for the leaderships of the B.C. Conservatives in 2014 and the federal party in 2016-17.
- Derek Sloan: An Ontario lawyer elected to the riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington last fall.
Who’s not running?
Chose not to run: Over three days in January, three high-profile candidates dropped out in quick succession. First was Quebec premier Jean Charest, who said he was tempted to join the race, but decided not to because of the personal and financial sacrifices required to pull together a campaign in only five months. Next was former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, who said in a social media video that she was instead “focused on making a difference through the private sector.” Ottawa-area MP and Harper-era cabinet minister Pierre Poilievre had organized a campaign team, but days before his scheduled formal announcement, he dropped out, saying he hadn’t realized how hard his candidacy would be on his family life.
Disqualified: Richard Decarie, a social conservative who believes being LGBTQ is a choice, made the Feb. 27 deadline for his application, fee and nomination signatures, but the party barred him from running.
What happens next? Key dates to watch
The Feb. 27 deadline for entering the race has come and gone, so now it’s a question of who will make it to the party convention in June. Here are the next steps.
- March 25: Candidates need 3,000 signatures and the remainder of their fees, which add up to $300,000. They’ll get $100,000 of that back after the leadership contest if they follow the rules.
- April 17: New party members have to join by this date to be able to vote for the new leader.
- June 27: The party holds a convention in Toronto to elect the leader.
On Andrew Scheer’s exit
The candidates: Commentary and analysis
Compiled by Globe staff
With reports from Janice Dickson, Laura Stone, Marieke Walsh, Robert Fife and The Canadian Press
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