Lisa Raitt Officially Joins Conservative Leadership Race

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OTTAWA — Conservative MP Lisa Raitt has joined the race to replace former prime minister Stephen Harper as party leader.

"I know where that Liberal path leads us, 'cause I grew up at the end of it," Raitt said in a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday afternoon to mark the beginning of her leadership campaign.

The video has Raitt, who represents the Toronto-area riding of Milton, narrating over archival photographs from Cape Breton, N.S., where she grew up, as well as family photographs from her childhood, which she said included financial struggles.

lisa raitt
Conservative MP Lisa Raitt speaks in the House of Commons on Oct.3, 2016. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)

"They tell us it's the era of 'sunny ways,' yet so many can't see the sun," said Raitt, playing off an oft-used Liberal phrase.

"Canada needs a leader who is going to fight for the striving many, not just the privileged few. We need a leader who will beat (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau in the next election, who knows what Canada looks like from the bottom, who will work to create opportunity for every striver at every age," said Raitt, before going on to tell her viewers that she is that leader.

Raitt did not respond to a request for an interview Wednesday, but is planning to make a full announcement Thursday morning in Toronto.

'So many can't see the sun'

The party has confirmed that she has filed the necessary paperwork to run.

First elected as a Conservative MP in 2008, Raitt served as minister for natural resources, labour and then transport under Harper.

She dropped hints about joining the leadership race all summer and last month stepped down from her role as Conservative finance critic so she could continue to explore the possibility of a bid.

Raitt also recently revealed that her husband, Bruce Wood, received a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's earlier this year.

Husband battling Alzheimer's

The couple married in Cape Breton in September.

Raitt has two sons from a previous marriage, John Colin and Billy, who are also featured in her campaign video, .

The Conservative party gave those hoping to take part in the first official leadership debate in Saskatoon next week until the end of Wednesday to register as candidates.

The others who have officially joined so far are former immigration minister Chris Alexander and Conservative MPs Maxime Bernier, Steven Blaney, Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Deepak Obhrai, Erin O'Toole, Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost.

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One topic that will likely come up is the question of Canadian identity and values.

Blaney announced Wednesday that he would set up a royal commission to explore the issue.

"As prime minister, Steven Blaney will establish a royal commission on Canadian identity to fully and impartially investigate past and current challenges to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms which determines our country's commitment to tolerance, fairness and equality," said a news release issued Wednesday by his campaign.

That follows a controversial proposal from Leitch, who in September said would-be immigrants and refugees should be screened for "anti-Canadian values."

The Conservatives will elect their new leader next May 27.