Andrew Saxton, Ex-B.C. MP, Preparing Bid For Tory Leadership

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OTTAWA — A defeated Conservative MP is considering a political comeback — running for leadership of his party.

Andrew Saxton, who lost his North Vancouver, B.C. seat last fall, is the latest Tory testing the waters to see if he could raise the funds and get the signatures required to enter the race.

He's also the latest western Canadian to contemplate jumping into a pool so far populated entirely by MPs from Ontario and Quebec, a fact that's caused some grumbling among party members concerned the race is straying too far from the party's roots.

andrew saxton
Former MP Andrew Saxton speaks in the House of Commons on April 24, 2015. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)

A brochure touting Saxton's parliamentary and private-sector experience has been circulating in recent days as the 52-year-old seeks input from Tories both in his home province and from across the country on whether they'd back a bid if he makes one.

Saxton said he still needs to speak to more people before making up his mind.

"I appreciate the encouragement that I'm getting," he told The Canadian Press.

"I recognize the importance of having a B.C. candidate in the race."

Where are the Westerners?

While other Westerners have said they're going to run, there are only four officially registered candidates in the contest.

All of them — Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Tony Clement — are current MPs and former cabinet ministers. Leitch, Chong and Clement are from Ontario and Bernier is from Quebec.

Alberta MP Deepak Obhrai and Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost have said they will run, but as of yet, have not formally applied to the party to be candidates.

Another Saskatchewan MP, Andrew Scheer, is expected to do so in the coming weeks.

'It's a big country'

Where the next leader should come from — both in terms of geography and resume — is a matter of debate in party circles.

The Reform and then Canadian Alliance movements were born and raised in Alberta and B.C. The first leader of the modern day Conservative Party, Stephen Harper, was from Alberta as is his temporary replacement, Rona Ambrose.

Keeping that lineage intact was one of the reasons many assumed Alberta MP Jason Kenney might run for leadership, but he's opted to pursue provincial politics instead.

"I don't want to see a situation where the only people that are competing are from Ontario and Quebec," said John Duncan, a former Conservative cabinet minister and longtime B.C. MP who was also defeated last fall.

"It's a big country and the West is, in a sense, the economic driver for the country at this point."

"I recognize the importance of having a B.C. candidate in the race."

Duncan said unlike some, he doesn't think the party needs a leader who comes from outside politics entirely; one of the reasons he's supportive of Saxton's bid is because of his political and business acumen.

While in Parliament, Saxton served as parliamentary secretary to both the president of the Treasury Board and former finance ministers Jim Flaherty and Joe Oliver

Saxton had a long career in finance and real estate before getting into politics and comes from a prominent B.C. family.

His father, Andrew Saxton Sr. had a hand in building up some of the province's marquee businesses, including B.C.'s first private television network, Grouse Mountain Resorts and the marina and hotel at Vancouver's famed Granville Island among others.

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