Steven Blaney Mulls Conservative Leadership Bid

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OTTAWA — Former public safety minister Steven Blaney says he's considering a run for the federal Conservative leadership.

Blaney is stepping down from his role as the official Opposition's public services critic to explore whether to make a bid for the party's top job.

In a short statement, Blaney said he wanted continue "his reflection about the future of the Conservative Party and the crucial decisions that Canada must make in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century."

steven blaneySteven Blaney is considering a run for the Tories' top job. (Photo: CP)

Blaney was not available for an interview about his leadership plans or timelines for making a decision about whether to officially join the race.

Blaney spent a decade on Parliament Hill as a Quebec MP before joining Stephen Harper's cabinet after the 2011 election as veterans affairs minister. Blaney oversaw changes to benefits that veterans groups felt didn't go far enough.

Two years later, Blaney moved to the Public Safety portfolio and was minister when the Conservatives passed the contentious anti-terrorism bill known as C-51.

Alexander mulling bid

Blaney, long the subject of leadership speculation, is the second Conservative in two days to make such a move; former immigration minister Chris Alexander confirmed Thursday he is mulling a bid as well.

Alexander, a 48-year-old former ambassador to Afghanistan, was seen as a rising star when he ran in the Toronto-area riding of Ajax-Pickering in 2011. Two years later, Stephen Harper brought him into the cabinet as immigration minister.

But Alexander became embroiled in controversy during last year's election campaign amid questions about the handling of the Syrian refugee crisis and for helping unveil a Tory promise to create a tip line for "barbaric cultural practices."

Heavyweights taking pass

Jason Kenney and Peter MacKay, former cabinet ministers and potential heavyweights, have passed on the race. Kenney is seeking the Conservative leadership in Alberta and MacKay says he wants more time with his young family.

So far, MPs Kellie Leitch, Michael Chong, Tony Clement, Maxime Bernier and Deepak Obhrai have officially joined the leadership race.

With the exception of Obhrai, all are cabinet veterans.

Former veterans affairs minister Erin O'Toole and Lisa Raitt, who served as natural resources, labour and transport minister, are also weighing their options, but have not formally joined the race.

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