By Collin Gallant
Alta Newspaper Group – Medicine Hat
Glen Motz is endorsing Leslyn Lewis to become Conservative Party leader, saying she can broaden the appeal of the party, and win the next federal election.
The Toronto lawyer is currently considered to be well back of leadership front runners, Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, in the race to replace Andrew Scheer through a mail-in ballot process this August.
Both men have maintained blocks of supporters throughout the delayed contest, but Motz, however, said Lewis has the ability to bring together the party and bring in “those who wouldn’t have considered voting conservative.”
“She’s a breath of fresh air, and Justin Trudeau’s worst nightmare,” he told the Alta Newspaper Group on June 12.
Earlier in the day, the Lewis campaign released the endorsement from the Member of Parliament form Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, who said he first became engaged with Lewis when she contacted him to discuss her public safety platform.
Motz, the parties’ deputy shadow critic on pubic safety, said he’s been increasingly impressed with her style and positions. That’s even as she has received little fanfare in the media compared to former federal party leader MacKay, former cabinet minister O’Toole and hardline candidate Derek Sloan.
“I’m not interested in someone who can only win a leadership contest, but someone who can become prime minister and have the kind of leadership and conversations we need to have in this country,” he said.
“Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole are great individuals and might win the leadership, but what I’m hearing from my constituents and myself, is that we might have a hard time winning an election with them.”
Motz endorsed O’Toole, a former veterans affairs minister, during the 2017 leadership contest. He placed third after a drawn-out round-by round voting process.
The current race to replace 2017 winner, Andrew Scheer, was originally set to conclude on June 27 with a convention. In March the process was suspended due to the pandemic, and mail ballots need to be completed and received by Aug. 21. Eligible voters must have been a party member in good standing as of May 15.
Motz expects her popularity to grow as the August voting deadline approaches and members become more engaged in making a decision.
Lewis, 49, is a lawyer who holds a Ph.D in International Law. She previously ran unsuccessfully for the CPC in the Ontario riding of Scarborough-Rouge Park in 2015.
She is the first female member of a visible minority group (her parents immigrated from Jamaica) to run for the federal leadership of the party.
According to other media reporting, her pro-life stances have made her the favourite among some social conservative groups.
Her platform includes reducing foreign aid by one quarter, allowing MPs to introduce bills restricting abortion services, engaging Indigenous communities with economic opportunities, federal funding for oil well abandonment, and environmental action spurred by tax credits for homeowners.
“She’s articulate, intelligent and principled … that’s some things that none of the federal party leaders are offering right now, and it’s what Canadians want,” Motz said.
Polling in May suggested Lewis could only garner about 10 per cent of first-choice votes on ballots, placing her third behind one-time Progressive Conservative party leader McKay and O’Toole.
All four leadership candidates state they would repeal the carbon tax in favour of other environmental measures, reverse gun-control measures introduced this year, and support for personal rights of health professionals to refuse providing abortion or assisted suicide services.