John Baird weighing Conservative leadership run, says party must be 'modern'

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Former cabinet minister John Baird says he is weighing a run for the Conservative leadership.

In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Baird said while he appreciates a call from Alberta Premier Jason Kenney last week for him to enter the race, he has not made any decisions.

“I really appreciate the comments made by Premier Kenney. He’s doing a phenomenal job in the province of Alberta and was a good friend and colleague when we served together in Ottawa,” said Baird.

“I’m obviously taking calls, weighing my options, and I haven’t made any decisions.”

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“So you are potentially considering a run then?” asked Stephenson. “You haven’t ruled it out?”

“I think I haven’t ruled anything out, but obviously it’s getting late into the contest,” Baird said. “So we’ll take it one day at a time.”

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will step down in June after the party votes on his replacement.

Scheer lost the fall federal election to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with critics, including those within his own party and campaign, pointing the finger at Scheer’s opposition to same-sex marriage and reproductive rights.

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Peter MacKay, another former Conservative cabinet minister who is running in the race, called those social conservative positions a “stinking albatross” hung around Scheer’s neck with voters.

Baird conducted the internal review of why Scheer lost that election. While the report has not been made public, leaked reports suggest it identified Scheer’s opposition to same-sex marriage as a major problem for the party and one that it could not afford to repeat going forward.

“First and foremost, we’ve got to be a modern Conservative party,” he told Stephenson when asked where the party needs to go next.

“We’ve got to be true to our conservative values and principles; I don’t think we win when we’re Liberal-lite. I think we need to be true blue.

“At the same time, we failed remarkably in Ontario and the Greater Toronto area.”

Baird said the party needs to go back to the drawing board in envisioning “a new coalition” of voters it can attract.

“We need to have a vision that can appeal to people in the suburbs of every city in this country,” he said.

“That’s something that’s incredibly important and obviously where we fell short.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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