Countdown on as Conservatives pick new leader tonight

August 23, 2020
Conservative leadership debate in disarray after Lewis, MacKay back out

In just hours, the Conservative Party will have a new leader after an unprecedented race that unfolded during a global pandemic.

Scrutineers have been tabulating results since the early morning. Results from the first ballot are expected to be announced at about 7:30 p.m. ET. 

If no candidate wins on the first ballot, it will go to a second round, and a third one if necessary, based on a ranked ballot system.

There are four candidates in the race to replace Andrew Scheer:

Leslyn Lewis

Lawyer Leslyn Lewis is a political newcomer. Her family emigrated to Canada from Jamaica when she was five. She has practised law for nearly 20 years and has multiple degrees, including a master’s degree in environmental studies and a PhD from Osgoode Hall law school. A social conservative, she would become the first Black woman to lead a Canadian national political party. She has said she decided to run to promote party unity and national unity, and wants the Conservative Party to be a “big-tent party” where people are free to hold divergent beliefs.

Peter MacKay

MacKay is a lawyer and former Conservative cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government. He led the Progressive Conservative Party when it merged with the Canadian Alliance to form what is now the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. In Harper’s cabinet, he held several top portfolios, including defence, foreign affairs and justice. During the campaign, MacKay said he would take “bold action” to get Canada’s economy back on track as it recovers from the global pandemic.

Erin O’Toole

O’Toole served as minister of veterans affairs under Harper, and currently serves as the party’s foreign affairs critic. He finished third in the last Conservative leadership race in 2017. After 12 years serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, O’Toole earned his law degree and worked as a corporate lawyer. He has said his focus will be to create jobs and revive Canada’s economy if elected leader.

Derek Sloan

Sloan is an Ontario MP who attended law school at Queen’s University after owning and operating several small businesses. The social conservative has denounced what he calls the erosion of free speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience in Canada, and the “politically correct culture.” He has said he would rescind the carbon tax and gun ban and pull Canada out of World Health Organization.

Here’s a guide to CBC’s coverage of the Conservative leadership results:

Listen: Cross Country Checkup, hosted live from Calgary by Kathleen Petty, asks: “Who should lead the Conservative Party of Canada?” Tune in live (1 p.m. PT, 2 p.m. MT, 3 p.m. CT, 4 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. AT, 5:30 p.m. NT) on CBC Radio One and streaming on the CBC Listen app and Facebook Live.  

Watch: CBC News special coverage hosted by Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton and featuring Vassy Kapelos, host of Power & Politics, starts at 5 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and CBC TV and livestreaming on, CBC GEM, YouTubeFacebook and Twitter.

Listen: National Affairs Editor Chris Hall and the CBC’s Martina Fitzgerald host special coverage on CBC Radio One and the CBC Listen App starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Follow: for the latest news from Kathleen Harris and JP Tasker as results are announced and for analysis by Éric Grenier and Aaron Wherry afterward.

The National will have a full recap and analysis of the Conservative leadership outcome at 10 p.m. on CBC Television and CBC Gem. On Monday morning, tune it to World Report on CBC Radio One and watch CBC News Networks’ continuing coverage for reaction to the leadership result.

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