OTTAWA — Three Conservative MPs who sought the party’s leadership earlier this year are bracing for a fight to represent the party at all come the 2019 election.
Kellie Leitch, Brad Trost and Deepak Obhrai are among several sitting MPs facing nomination challenges for the next federal vote, but it’s expected to be weeks yet before their prospective foes are approved to run against them.
Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa is now reviewing applications from several people seeking to challenge incumbent MPs after the deadline for filing to do so passed Friday.
If the applications are approved, riding associations get to interview and sign-off on prospective candidates and if they get the final nod from the party, elections will be held later in 2018.
Leitch, Trost and Obhrai have all committed to running again.
Leitch finished sixth in the leadership contest, running on a platform that included, among other things, a controversial call for a values test for new Canadians. She’s kept a relatively low profile in the House of Commons since and was not included in new leader Andrew Scheer’s shadow cabinet.
But she won her Ontario riding by 5,000 votes in the 2015 federal election and said she continues to enjoy the strong support of people there.
The challenge isn’t connected to her failed leadership bid, she said.
“Our party has an open nomination process and I agree with it,” she said.
“It’s part of a healthy process and evidence of a strong party.”
At least two people have filed the paperwork to challenge her. One is Gillian Yeates, a Harvard-educated physician, who told a local news outlet last month the riding needed a change.
“I feel strongly there needs to be changes and changes on how we are addressing our public and presenting ourselves as a country,” she told Simcoe.com.
“Sometimes there is something that says this is a need and this needs to change and that’s why I am doing it.”
The other is Terry Dowdall, mayor of Essa Township, about an hour north of Toronto. In 2010, Dowdall beat out incumbent mayor David Guergis for that job; Guergis’s cousin Helena is the former Conservative MP for the riding.