Federal Conservatives set May 27, 2017, for leadership election

Prospective candidates for the federal Conservative leadership will have plenty of time to lay their groundwork for a successful bid. The party's organizing committee met in Toronto last weekend to set the date, but official rules surrounding finances and organization are still to come.

Organizing committee met last weekend to set date for 'open and fair contest,' with rules still to come

The Conservative Party has set May 27, 2017, as the date it will choose its next leader. Some of the names being mentioned as potential contenders include, from left, Calgary MP Jason Kenney, former justice minister Peter MacKay, Ontario MP Kellie Leitch and celebrity businessman Kevin O'Leary. (Canadian Press/Associated Press)

Prospective candidates for the federal Conservative leadership have plenty of time to hit the road and start lobbying party members to drum up support.

The party's organizing committee met in Toronto last weekend and set May 27, 2017, as the leadership election date.

"This will allow for a time frame that not just provides an exciting and competitive race for our members and all Canadians, but keeps it an open and fair contest for all potential candidates," said committee chair Dan Nowlan in a release Tuesday.

Individuals must hold a party membership in order to vote. The party is encouraging everyone interested to either purchase or renew their memberships to ensure they're eligible.

Preston Manning 12:01

The release didn't specify a cutoff date for membership sales, which are key to the campaign of any candidate looking to win the leadership by expanding the party's base beyond existing loyalists.

The committee has yet to decide other rules for the race, but will do so and make further announcements in the coming weeks, according to the party's release.

Speaking on CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Tuesday, former Conservative defence minister Peter MacKay refused to close the door entirely on the prospect of running for the leadership. 

"I'm focused on my family, my future, which does not involve politics right now," he said. "I've been involved in leadership campaigns before, and it does involve a great deal of effort. This is not immediately in front of me, this isn't something I'm contemplating and my focus quite frankly isn't on this."

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