She went from political obscurity to centre-stage in the Conservative leadership race overnight. Now, Leslyn Lewis says she intends to run in the next election for a seat long held by the Conservatives in southwestern Ontario.
Lewis already has been touring the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, about half an hour east of Hamilton, with the incumbent MP, Diane Finley.
Finley, who has held her seat since 2004, announced on Facebook in August that she would not be running in the next election.
Lewis is not the official candidate yet. Her spokesperson said that the party is still finalizing the new rules for the nomination of candidates and that they are anxiously awaiting those rules so that she can make her intentions official.
Lewis launched herself into the political spotlight during the Conservative leadership race. A Black lawyer from the Toronto area with a PhD in law and a Masters in Environmental Science, she was open about her socially conservative views; she wants to restrict access to medical aid in dying and ban sex-selective abortions.
Lewis came in third in the leadership race, collecting 30 per cent of the available points in the second round of voting before she was knocked off the ballot. She also managed to raise more than $2 million from party members during the campaign.
Before the leadership, her only experience with running for office had been stepping in as the Conservative candidate in Scarborough-Rouge Park at the 11th hour — when the previous candidate was dropped after embarrassing hidden camera footage showed him urinating in a homeowner’s coffee cup while working as a repairman.
While the area Lewis hopes to run in has gone Liberal in decades past, Finley has won it by fair margins in recent years. In 2019, Finley won with 46.8 per cent of the vote, more than 20 percentage points ahead of her closest competitor. In 2015, she finished with 44.1 per cent, trailed by the Liberal candidate with 36.6 per cent of the vote.
Last month, Lewis reflected on the challenges of deciding where to run in an interview with Vassy Kapelos on CBC’s Power & Politics.
“I’ve had dozens of ridings reach out to me and ask me if I would consider running,” she said.
While a riding in Alberta or Saskatchewan would be the safest choice, Lewis said her children were also a significant factor in her decision. Her youngest son, 15, is a high-performance athlete.
“I want to find an area that will be able to have a good school, great academics but also optimize his potential with respect to his athletics,” she said.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.