In the new year, here is who Canadian Conservatives should keep an eye on.

Maxime Bernier, leadership candidate for the federal Conservative Party – Member of Parliament for Beauce, Quebec, and former Minister of Industry (as well as other Ministries), Maxime Bernier is among the frontrunners of the Conservative Leadership race. In his own words, Bernier is β€œa Conservative who believes in individual freedom and personal liberty.”

He has also been called “the Libertarian candidate for the Tory leadership” by Brian Lilley, as well as “Mad Max, and “the Albertan from Quebec”. Privatizing the CBC and Canada Post, abolishing supply management, lowering taxes, scaling back the size of the federal government, and affirm free trade both domestically and internationally.

For more on Maxime Bernier see “The Buckley Rule and Maxime Bernier” and “Why Conservatives Should Support Maxime Bernier.”

Jason Kenney, leadership candidate for the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta – Before opting to move to Alberta and seek the leadership of the PCs, Jason Kenney was thought to be the next leader of the federal Conservatives. Kenney is famous for his tenacious debating style in the House of Commons, and, recently, for his exchange with the Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef, over electoral reform.

It would be easier and less time-consuming to list the cabinet positions that Kenney has not held, rather than the ones he has. In other words, Jason Kenney’s experience as a politician is unquestionable. He held a number of positions in the former Harper government, including Minister of Defence, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

Kenney’s recent accolade, however, is his campaign to “Unite Alberta” and defeat Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP. He seeks to do so by first winning the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives, and then merging his party with the Wildrose. Kenney hopes to completely unite the right-of-centre- vote in Alberta, and ensure a Conservative government in Canada’s most resource-rich province.

Sam Oosterhoff – Oosterhoff was elected as the Conservative MPP for Niagra-West Glanbrook (the former seat of Tim Hudak) in a November by-election in 2016. At just 19 years old, he is the youngest Ontario MPP to ever be elected. This, in itself, is quite impressive, however, it is even more astounding due to his socially conservative views.

As Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown attempts to steer his party to the Left, he will now have to deal with a young, popular, and energetic social conservative thorn in his side. Even for those who do not share Oosterhoff’s views, his success is exemplary of the power of the individual over the collective; the candidate over the party; and the outlier over the masses. Patrick Brown is here for now, but it is likely that Sam Oosterhoff is here for years to come. As a result, these two versions of Conservatism will have to come together in order to defeat Kathleen Wynne – and that is something to watch this year – and, as you watch, smile.



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