Thursday, February 2, 2023

Eyes off the prize: Why is the Conservative leadership field so small?

Back in 2017, it seemed like everyone wanted to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.

It’s a curious place the Conservative Party finds itself in right now. In 2017, the party was trying to move past a bruising election defeat and the resignation of Stephen Harper, the modern party’s co-founder — arguably a low point. But Conservatives still had 14 names on the ballot to choose from when voting began May 29.

Today, the party objectively is in far better shape. While it failed to defeat the Trudeau Liberals last year, it gained 20 seats and (as current leader Andrew Scheer likes to remind us) won the popular vote. It still tends to crush rival parties when it comes to fundraising.

And if electoral history offers any guide, after two terms the Liberals will be ripe for replacement in the next election. Which means the next Conservative leader has an awfully good chance of becoming the next prime minister as well.

So what is it about the job that seems to make it so unappealing for so many prominent, capable candidates?

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