Skip to main content

Conservative Member of Parliament Leslyn Lewis speaks during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Feb. 7.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

The federal Conservative leadership race is set to expand to three candidates by week’s end, with Ontario MP Leslyn Lewis entering the race Tuesday and former Quebec premier Jean Charest poised to launch his campaign on Thursday.

Both of them will join Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre, who announced his candidacy last month and has, until now, been the only candidate out looking for support.

The Conservative Party has confirmed that the outcome of the leadership race will be announced by Sept. 10. Prospective candidates have until April 19 to enter. Voters require party membership, and they have until June 3 to get it.

Mr. Charest, Quebec’s premier from 2003 until 2012, is scheduled to hold an event in Calgary on Thursday night, as part of what a campaign notice obtained by The Globe and Mail bills as his Building to Win tour.

The notice describes the 63-year-old Mr. Charest, a former leader of the federal Progressive Conservatives who went on to serve as a provincial Liberal premier in Quebec, as “built to win.”

Ms. Lewis, who placed third in the 2020 leadership race after a campaign that advanced social-conservative themes, said in a tweet that, “I’m running to lead our party and our country based on hope, unity and compassion.”

The tweet also features video of Ms. Lewis, the MP for Haldimand-Norfolk, speaking in Parliament about how Canadians are desperate for hope and calling for unity. She added in the video that guarding freedom and upholding democracy means a need for “compassionate hearts” and “listening ears.”

The video is from a debate over the Emergencies Act, enacted by the federal Liberal government last month to deal with blockades held to protest pandemic restrictions.

Ms. Lewis is a lawyer and one of few Black members of Parliament. She did not respond to an interview request on Tuesday.

Last October, she used social media to defend the rights of those who do not declare their vaccination status, saying she would not allow the media and power structure to compel her to “sit in the back of the bus” or “lynch me into silence.”

Mr. Poilievre entered the leadership race on Feb. 5, declaring he was running for prime minister to give supporters control of their lives.

Senator Leo Housakos, a co-chair on Mr. Poilievre’s leadership campaign, has been criticizing Mr. Charest ahead of his entry into the race.

“We need a leader who wants to lead the CPC not just someone interested in building their own legacy and recycling Liberal policies that are the hallmarks of Mr. Charest’s record,” the senator said in a tweet.

Other candidates considering a run for the Tory leadership include Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown and Michael Chong, the party’s foreign affairs critic. Scott Aitchison, the MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, and the former mayor of Huntsville, Ont., is also said to be considering a run.

For subscribers: Get exclusive political news and analysis by signing up for the Politics Briefing.