PEI

Come to the Island: Malpeque delegate courts federal Tory leadership hopefuls

Stephen Stewart has put federal Conservative leader hopefuls on notice: he expects them to campaign on Prince Edward Island for the party's top job.

'We still have a very strong party'

Stephen Stewart of Malpeque, at the federal Conservative convention in Vancouver, wants all candidates vying for the party leadership to visit the Island. (Stephen Stewart)

Stephen Stewart has put federal Conservative leader hopefuls on notice: he expects them to campaign on Prince Edward Island for the party's top job.

We're small, but we're important.- Stephen Stewart  

Stewart, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Liberal incumbent Wayne Easter in the Malpeque riding in the last election, is attending the 2016 Conservative convention in Vancouver.

"I've been working hard at making sure these people are all going to come to P.E.I., because we are as important as anybody else," said Stewart. 

Covering his bases

So far, former Tory cabinet minister and Ontario MP Kellie Leitch is the only candidate to campaign on the Island, but Stewart said he expects to see everyone who declares a bid for the leadership to make it a priority.

"Maxime Bernier is scheduled to be on P.E.I. in the next couple of weeks. I had a great chat with Michael Chong last night," Stewart said.

"He's got my email, my phone number and [I'm] making direct contact with these people."

And he's not limiting his advocacy to declared candidates. Stewart said he's also been speaking with Jason Kenny and Peter MacKay in a move to cover all bases.

"We're small, but we're important," Stewart said.

Taxation, same-sex marriage, gun ownership

In addition to the wooing by those who hope to replace Stephen Harper, the Tory convention has a lengthy list of new policies to discuss and debate on everything from taxation to same-sex marriage to the amount of power the party's leader should have. Motions on gun ownership and marijuana are up for debate too.

Coming together for the first time since the Conservative Party's defeat in the October election, Stewart said it's time to move forward.

"Sometimes change is good and a lot of people don't like change but the voters said it was time ... We still have a very strong party."

With files from Angela Walker