Michael Chong ponders Conservative leadership race

FERGUS – Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong may throw his hat in the ring to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

“I am considering it but I haven’t made a decision,” he told the Advertiser on Dec. 16.

In the 2017 leadership race, which ultimately saw Andrew Scheer named party leader, Chong finished fifth out of 13 candidates.

Now, with Scheer stepping down on Dec. 12, Chong is considering doing the whole thing over again.

“It was a thrill of a lifetime to run in that leadership race,” he said. “It was a real honour to be able to enter the race and to be able to present ideas and to meet tens of thousands of Canadians across the country who care deeply about the future of this country.”

He added, “Some people supported those ideas, others didn’t, but it was a wonderful experience to be part of that debate.

“It renewed my faith in Canadian democracy and in the democratic process.”

This time around, Chong said he still has a lot to consider before running.

He wants to see what other candidates enter the race and the level of support he has.

“In the last race we put out ideas about where we thought the party should go,” Chong explained.

“I think clearly the party wasn’t ready to head in that direction, so part of my deliberation will be whether the party has shifted in its views and also whether I have grown as a leader and whether I’ve grown in my ability to find common ground with the different parts of the party, so that we can maintain the unity of the party while at the same time addressing those issues like climate change … for example.”

He said his thinking on the carbon tax, a point of contention in the last leadership race, has evolved.

“Maybe there’s some common ground here within the party to come forward with a more ambitious agenda on climate change that makes the party appealing to voters in large cities, while at the same time maintaining the unity of the party across the country,” he said.

“So that’s my thinking at this point, but those are the kinds of conversations I’ll be having in the coming weeks.”

Regardless of who runs for the Conservative Party of Canada’s top spot, Chong said it’s important to choose someone who can unite the party and continue to build the party in urban Canada.

“We need to grow the party beyond our rural and western base and we need to grow it in cities and I think we need a leader that can do that while at the same time uniting the party,” Chong said.

There has been no declaration of rules for the race and no date set for the final leadership vote.

“All that yet has to be determined by the party,” Chong said.