As we end the month of January there has been a lot of digital ink spilled over the Conservative Leadership Race and the serious potential candidates who decided to stay out. That long list of names like Jean Charest, Rona Ambrose, Pierre Poilievre, Candace Bergen and Michael Chong has looked much better than the longer list of those who have decided to get into this thing, but who probably shouldn’t be.
The surprising part of this is the fact that the Conservatives designed rules and barriers to entry to stringent that it was supposed to scare off long-shot candidates and make sure that only serious people apply. But with the candidacies of people like Richard Décarie, Derek Sloan and Rick Peterson, it’s coming clear that so far, those rules aren’t keeping them from trying.
This has gotten to the point where you wonder who else might take a run at this thing. Admittedly that curiosity of mine got all the more piqued when I saw some Facebook friends talking about one such other candidate, which lead me to do some more digging. And folks, wow did I find some stuff. It turns out there are a lot of other people who believe they should be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and despite the fact that they aren’t likely to raise the money or get the signatures to get on the ballot, they are still out there selling their chances of replacing Andrew Scheer. So, with that in mind, here are some of those other candidates who, if they succeed, are taking the plunge to run. Let’s start with a name that some in Ontario already know:
Canada meet Jim Karahalios. If you remember the name, he ran to the President of the Ontario PC’s and lost. That lead him to launch a $100,000 lawsuit that claimed “the PC party’s presidential election was manipulated, further alleging that election rules were breached and ballot boxes were stuffed in order to elect his competitor.” In the lawsuit, he claimed that 1,345 ballots were cast, despite there only being 1,230 eligible voters. Hmmm, you’d think that wouldn’t make him Mr. Popular in Ontario Conservative circles, despite the fact that his wife is actually an MPP in Doug Ford’s caucus. What’s amazing is that why he was suing the Ontario Conservatives, Belinda Karahalios proposed a law to ensure “transparency and integrity in political party elections”. That law got shot down the by Ford majority.
Besides that, he’s known for his “Axe the Carbon Tax” campaign and after the likes of Peter MacKay came out against a carbon tax this week, Karahalios was doing victory laps trying to take credit for it. That might be his only victory in this race because it will be surprising if he actually reaches the levels he must to officially be able to get in the race. But while his shot is a long one, there are others that are even longer shots. Next one up is a potential candidate from the West who was so sure that he should lead this party that he declared his intentions way back before Christmas:
Everyone meet Clayton Knutson. What exactly is his claim to fame? Well all I found on him was that he was at one point a Freedom Conservative Party candidate in last years Alberta provincial election, until he got booted. What did he do to manage to get booted from the fledgling FCP? According to media reports “the party was concerned about Islamophobic posts”, posts which I won’t repeat here. Other reporting included an interview with him where he criticized his removal uttering such things as he believes a true libertarian party should not kick him out because he is critical of Islam and “You have to be Shariah-compliant if you’re going to run for a party in Alberta.” Yeah, something tells me he might not make the vetting for this Conservative race either, but he seems to think that he should be the guy to lead them, which can’t be good for that party. So, who’s next on the list? Well how about a pair of former defeated Conservative candidates from the GTA:
Everyone meet Dr. Leslyn Lewis and Bobby Singh. Both have run for the Conservatives in the past, both running in the riding of Scarborough-Rouge Park, Dr. Lewis in 2015 and Mr. Singh in 2019. Neither came close to winning and didn’t have candidacies of note. Interestingly none other than Charles McVety tweeted support for her, encouraging his followers to go to her website and register to vote for her. Neither have much profile and it remains to be seen if either can get on the ballot, but Lewis seems very bullish on her chances. She told the Sun’s Joe Warmington that she’s got pledges to get her to the $300,000 entry fee, even going so far as to say that “there is a 0% chance I won’t be on the ballot.” I guess time will tell on that front. But how about one more candidate today? Let’s look at two last candidates who says that are going to make the plunge:
Everyone, Aron Seal, the second former Conservative staffer to declare their intentions. Seal is a former policy advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Director of Policy for Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty. He’s almost known for showing his interest in this thing very early, calling for Scheer to resign before Halloween even got here. He’s trying to pitch himself as the “Millennial Conservative”, which is a lane that no one has seemed to have taken so far, which I guess is something you can say. Whether it’s enough to actually get him on the ballot, well that doesn’t seem likely, but we’ll see.
And last but certainly not least, everyone meeting Edy Laracque. Honestly, I could find very little about Mr. Laracque outside of this Facebook page of his. He has no website, his Google search is extremely light and there isn’t a lot out there about him online. Regardless of that, he seems quite bullish on his chances too. He’s a serious candidate; we know this because he wrote a post to that effect in all caps. He’s also invited Pierre Poilievre to join his campaign, so we’ll see how that works out. Of all the names I came across while writing this piece, I would put his odds as being the longest of actually getting into this race, and that feels safe to say.
But if this piece has driven home anything to me, it is the fact that this race really isn’t going how the Conservatives had hoped. It’s possible that none of these people mentioned in this blog will get on the ballot and may just be footnotes in history, but I point to this because of the context in which all of this is happening. While real big names and potential serious leaders are taking a pass on this race, these are the names we’re seeing start to come to the surface and thinking they should take their shot. That strikes me as the opposite of what the Conservatives have hoped to accomplish in this race and that should give a lot of pause to members of that party. Or at least that’s just my two cents, for whatever that’s worth.