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 2004 Conservative Party Leadership Race

OTTAWA - The Conservative Party of Canada has spoken. Stephen Harper fought off a strong challenge from political neophyte Belinda Stronach and former Ontario health minister Tony Clement to win the Conservative leadership race on the first ballot, garnering 55 per cent of the points. 

"I am proud to lead our new, strong, united party as we focus our efforts on delivering the change that Canadians demand and deserve," Harper said in a statement to his supporters. 

"Working together, we can elect a strong Conservative government to replace the tired old Chrétien-Martin Liberals. Together, we know we can get our country back on track to achieving the great things we all know is within our collective grasp."

arrow-trans.gif (111 bytes) National breakdown of Conservative leadership vote results.

To stay informed on the race to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada by returning to the PoliticsWatch Conservative Leadership Race page.

Conservative leadership contenders, ranking, bio, photo, Web site and contact information
Breaking News
Recommended Background links

Leadership Contenders -  
Bio, contact and Web site info

Stephen Harper -- 55.5%
bio | contact | web site
Harper is considered a strong candidate to lead the new party. Just 44-years-old, the bilingual Harper is a veteran in political circles, and has been leader of the Official Opposition since 2002.  While having the experience of leading a party can be considered a plus, many are concerned that having Harper as leader will make the merger of the Alliance and the Conservatives look like a takeover.   

Belinda Stronach -- 35.0%
bio | contact | web site

Belinda StronachThe 37-year-old CEO of Magna International has never held elected office, but played a key role in negotiating an agreement to create the new party and has been a major political fundraiser in recent years. Her friends tell the media that she is seriously considering entering the race. "If it was five per cent before, it's 75 per cent now," an associate told Canadian Press. "She's been almost overwhelmed by the number of people calling her." Stronach's fundraising abilities and political contacts would make her a serious challenger if she entered the race. 

Tony Clement -- 9.5%

bio | Contact| web site

This former Ontario Health Minister is believed to be the heir of former leadership hopeful Mike Harris' political machine in Ontario. Since being defeated in last year's provincial elections, Clement has been hired by the law firm Bennett Jones and the University of Toronto law school. The Toronto Star reports that Clement's team is so serious about their man making a run that they are soliciting volunteers and are looking at office space in Toronto and Brampton.


Peter MacKay

If the Tory caucus leader enters the race it will be his third campaign in less than 10 months -- if you include the Conservative Party ratification process. The 38-year-old reportedly delayed his decision to run, waiting for a decision by fellow Maritimer Bernard Lord. MacKay can be credited with successfully negotiating an agreement with Harper that factored in the equality of ridings in the leadership selection process. But at the same time, many believe that MacKay's breaking of his leadership floor deal with David Orchard not to merge with the Alliance has damaged the young Nova Scotian politico. 

Updated Jan 13, 2004: Saying his heart said, "Go," but his head said, "No," MacKay announced today that he will not enter the race. 

Jim Prentice
bio | contact | web site

Calgary lawyer Jim Prentice placed second to former Tory leader Peter MacKay at the May 2003 PC Leadership Convention. He announced his candidacy unofficially in a December interview on CTV's Question Period. Prentice acknowledges that he is relatively unknown. "Some of you may be wondering, 'Who is this guy anyway?'" he asks in his campaign website biography. "Fair question." 

Updated Jan 12, 2004: Citing a lack of campaign financing, Prentice announced his withdrawal from the race. 

Chuck Strahl

Chuck StrahlA bit of a dark horse, but well liked and well known on Parliament Hill, Strahl is a 46-year-old grandfather of two who was first elected to Parliament in 1993, making him the candidate with the most federal political experience. The Alliance MP is considered one of the party's strongest performers in Question Period. Strahl says he is considering entering the leadership race because without a substantial field of candidates it "runs the risk of being humdrum."  

Updated Jan 16, 2004: Canadian Press reports that citing a lack of financing, Strahl announced that he will not seek the party's leadership.   


Read these stories and features
from PoliticsWatch:

Stronach in Conservative race
Clement in, Stronach next
MacKay says it's not his time
Strahl says he's "ready to go"
Harper to enter race to lead new party
Harper won't drop out for Lord
New Conservative Party official
Stronach comes to the Hill


Background Links:


Canadian Political Party Leaders
click here to read more

Political Parties and Democratic Coalitions in the Canadian House of Commons:

Liberal Party of Canada
Canadian Alliance
Le Bloc Québécois
New Democratic Party of Canada
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada


To take the quiz, click here.

Notable events: 
Conservative Party leadership race

Mar. 19 to Mar. 21, 2004 
Conservative leadership convention to take 
place in Ottawa. 

Join the Party


How the leader will be selected

Convention details

Conservative Party of Canada National Leadership Event Friday and Saturday March 19 & 20, 2004, Toronto, schedule “at a glance”


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