As federal Conservatives try to come together after a lengthy and at times divisive leadership contest, a Tory MP would like it known that he did not vote for Andrew Scheer.
Quebec MP Bernard Généreux released a statement Monday announcing he wanted Ontario MP Lisa Raitt to take over the reins of the party.
Généreux, chair of the Quebec Tory caucus, said in the release that he refrained from promoting any candidate during the race but backed Raitt.
"She had my support because she is a woman who has demonstrated her competence as a leader, she also has a good knowledge of both official languages," he said.
Lisa Raitt waves to the crowd during the opening night of the federal Conservative leadership convention in Toronto on May 26, 2017. (Photo: Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Though Raitt boasted significant cabinet experience in the last government, her inability to speak French fluently was considered a major hurdle for her campaign.
Généreux said Raitt — who was born in Nova Scotia and represents the riding of Milton — is a politician who can “perform formidably in the spotlight,” much like former interim leader Rona Ambrose. He noted her work as the Tories’ finance critic before she made her bid.
“In my opinion, she is the one that could best improve the country's finances, when Justin Trudeau will be done emptying the pockets of his fellow citizens. Canada is now ready for a woman Prime Minister,” Généreux said.
“There is no doubt that Lisa Raitt will be drafted by a future leader to carry out his projects and that she would be part of his close guard.”
Conservative MP Bernard Généreux speaks in the House of Commons on Sept. 24, 2010. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Of course, Canada has already had a female prime minister — Kim Campbell — in 1993.
“Our next goal is to defeat the Liberals in 2019.”
Généreux said he supports the decision of party members to select Scheer, who leapfrogged perceived front-runner and Quebec MP Maxime Bernier on the 13th ballot Saturday in Toronto.
The statement is all the more unusual after Raitt used her speech to Tory delegates Friday night to urge Conservatives to unite around the new leader. Her remarks all but conceded that leader would not be her.
Andrew Scheer is congratulated after winning the Tory leadership in Toronto on May 27, 2017. (Photo: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)
“No matter who prevails this weekend, it is our responsibility as Conservatives to rally behind the new leader. Much like our previous generation of Reformers and Tories, the East and the West, rallied behind Stephen Harper,” Raitt said, spurring applause from the crowd. “When we are united, we win; when we are divided, we don’t.”
Raitt was eliminated from contention early Saturday, finishing 8th. Before the vote, Raitt told CBC News that she marked Scheer as her second choice on the ranked ballot.
Scheer’s campaign also released a video earlier this month of Raitt suggesting to CTV News Atlantic that the 38-year-old Saskatchewan MP was her preferred second choice.
“He’s young, no question about it,” Raitt said during the interview. “But I think he’s got a good heart and he’s a kind soul and he’s got good people around him.”