Elsie Wayne mulls political comeback

Colourful former Tory MP Elsie Wayne from New Brunswick is pondering a return to federal politics if an election is called this spring.

Colourful former Tory MP Elsie Wayne is pondering a return to federal politics if an election is called this spring.

Wayne, who turns 73 Wednesday, said she received a call from the Conservative Party of Canada asking her to run again in her longtime New Brunswick riding of Saint John.

"I got a call from Ottawa this past week and I said 'Well, I'll take a look at it,'" she said.

During a visit to a Saint John mall with a CBC camera crew Tuesday, Wayne was repeatedly approached by supporters expressing their loyalty and even their love, though she got into an argument with one man who wasn't a fan.

Wayne was well-known for her stand against gay rights, once telling the House of Commons that homosexuals shouldn't be dressing up for pride parades and should "shut up" about wanting to get married.

The former mayor of Saint John had been in politics for 27 years before she retired in the months leading up to the June 2004 election.

That vote saw the seat she had held for three terms swinging to the Liberals, electing lawyer Paul Zed.

The Conservative riding association in Saint John says nine people have recently expressed interest in seeking the nomination to run for the party in an effort to retake the seat from the Liberals.

Riding association officials say none of them have the name recognition enjoyed by Wayne, who once acted as interim leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, in the seven months between the leadership stints of Jean Charest and Joe Clark.

She and Charest were the only Tory MPs elected when Jean Chrétien's Liberals swept into office in 1993, after Canada spent 10 years being governed by Brian Mulroney's Conservatives.

As well as serving as deputy leader of the party, Wayne was critic for Defence, Veterans Affairs and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.