The Conservative Party is postponing its national convention as it gears up for a leadership race.
Initially planned for April, a news release from the party confirmed that the Toronto meeting would be cancelled in favour of meeting in Quebec City in the middle of November 2020.
The Conservatives said the party’s National Council voted Friday to delay the policy convention “so greater focus could be given to the details and organization around the Conservative leadership election process.”
After initially affirming that the new leader of the party would be chosen on Nov. 14 during that meeting, Conservative sources clarified to Radio-Canada that the date of the leadership decision had not yet been decided.
The party leadership organizing committee, which has yet to be formed, will be responsible for determining the date on which the results of the leadership contest will be released.
That new leader will succeed Andrew Scheer, who resigned from party leadership less than two months after increasing the number of seats the Conservatives hold in the House of Commons but ultimately failing to win the October election.
According to one Conservative commentator, moving the policy convention to November “would allow the party to have a leadership race before that, and it would be the wise thing to do.”
“In order to have those policies put together and into a platform that the leader is ultimately going to be championing and presenting to Canadians, they’re going to need to have that leader in place before the policies are voted on,” Zehavi Zynoberg told CBC News on Saturday.
“So it would be my guess that the leadership election would take place before that.”
‘Time is of the essence’
After the Oct. 21 vote, the Liberals won a minority government with 157 seats, while Scheer’s Conservatives took 121.
In the aftermath, many party members were calling for his resignation and efforts were made to push him toward the exit.
After having initially resisted, repeating that his future will be decided by the wider party membership at the now-cancelled April convention, Scheer surprised everyone on Dec. 12 by announcing his departure.
He gave an emotion-filled speech in the Commons, saying that he made this decision because it is better for the party. His final plea to the party was to help Conservatives remain united. Scheer has said he will stay on as party leader until a new one is chosen.
As Scheer was addressing his fellow MPs in the House of Commons, Global News reported the Conservative Party had paid for part of his children’s private school tuition.
Scheer’s office confirmed to CBC News that the party was paying the difference between the cost of admission to schools in Saskatchewan and the higher cost of tuition in Ottawa, along with some other expenses. That cost was described as “minimal” but amounted to thousands of dollars.
His office insisted the tuition matter was not the reason for Scheer’s resignation, but several MPs and other party members expressed unhappiness that they were unaware of the arrangement.
Scheer became leader of the Conservative Party and leader of the official opposition on May 27, 2017, narrowly defeating Maxime Bernier after a tight leadership race.
A few names of possible candidates to take over at the helm have already begun to emerge, including those of former interim leader Rona Ambrose, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, former Quebec premier Jean Charest and former cabinet minister Peter MacKay. Current members of caucus like Erin O’Toole are also expected to declare when the race is formalized.
“The next leader has to be able to recognize that we’re in a minority government and that time is of the essence,” Zynoberg said. “So if it’s a candidate that can bring together the different parts of the coalition of the Conservative Party, then I think we’re in a strong position going into [the next election.]
“It is a big tent party. It consists of different groups of conservatives, from social conservatives to fiscal conservatives and Red Tories alike. And the next leader, if they can unite that coalition, we have a great chance of defeating Justin Trudeau.”