Alberta Premier Jason Kenney — one of the most prominent voices in Canada’s Conservative movement — has thrown his support behind Erin O’Toole’s bid to become the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
In an email to party members provided to journalists by O’Toole’s team, Kenney says he thought long and hard about his decision to endorse a candidate.
He argues O’Toole has what it takes to win in key regions of the country that Conservatives need to form a government.
Kenney notes that he served in cabinet when O’Toole was veterans affairs minister. He does not mention that he also spent many years in cabinet with Peter MacKay, O’Toole’s primary rival in the leadership race.
In fact, in his email endorsing O’Toole, Kenney takes a dig at MacKay:
“No one will have their deeply-held beliefs dismissed as ‘stinking albatrosses’ under Erin O’Toole’s leadership.”
That’s an obvious reference to comments MacKay made after last fall’s election. In the wake of Andrew Scheer’s loss, MacKay said questions about women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ issues “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like a stinking albatross” throughout the campaign.
MacKay currently has the endorsements of 27 MPs, two senators and Nova Scotia PC Leader Tim Houston. O’Toole has the backing of eight MPs.
MacKay and O’Toole are the only two candidates in the eight-person race who have cleared all the hurdles required by the party. Both men have achieved “verified candidate” status, meaning they have submitted $300,000 in registration fees and compliance deposit and 3,000 signatures from party members across the country.
The Conservative Party will announce the results of its leadership race on June 27.