Pitching P.E.I.: Conservative leadership candidates make their pitch to P.E.I. voters

We asked the 13 Conservative leadership candidates to make their pitch for why the 1,000 members on P.E.I. should choose them as the party's next leaders.

Each riding, regardless of the number of members, counts equally toward the vote, giving P.E.I. more pull

From left Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer, Andrew Saxton, Steven Blaney, Pierre Lemieux, Brad Trost, Rick Peterson and Deepak Obhrai listen in as Michael Chong speaks at a Conservative Party of Canada leadership forum in Winnipeg, Thursday, January 19, 2017. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

P.E.I. packs a political punch when it comes to the upcoming Conservative leadership vote. 

Each riding, regardless of the number of members, counts equally toward the vote. So P.E.I.'s four ridings are worth as much to these candidates as any riding in the country.

There are about 1,000 members of the Conservative party on P.E.I. eligible to cast a ballot for leader.

The winner will be announced on May 27 in Toronto.

Erin O'Toole, Chris Alexander, Lisa Raitt, Deepak Obhrai, Pierre Lemieux, Rick Peterson, Andrew Scheer, Maxime Bernier, Steven Blaney, Kevin O'Leary, Kellie Leitch, Michael Chong, Andrew Sexton and Brad Trost, left to right, participate in the Conservative leadership candidates' debate, in Halifax on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. Conservatives vote for a new party leader on May 27, 2017. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Eleven of the candidates visited Prince Edward Island in person over the course of the leadership campaign.

We asked all of 13 of the candidates to make their pitch —in two to three sentences — for why Island Conservatives should choose them as the party's next leaders.

Here is how they responded. The candidates' responses have been sorted in alphabetical order, by first name:

Andrew Saxton

"I have over 30 years of experience in finance in the private sector and in government," Saxton wrote.

Candidate Andrew Saxton addresses a Conservative Party leadership debate Monday, February 13, 2017 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

"I am the only candidate with a plan to balance the budget within two years of taking office — I was part of the team that balanced the budget in 2015 and I can do it again."

"I know Atlantic Canada is extremely important to our country and party and that's why I've been here in P.E.I. so often listening to the concerns of our members."

Andrew Scheer

"Coming from Saskatchewan, I have seen what happens when our young people have had to move away to find work. It should not have to be that way. It's Conservative principles that help unleash the power of the private sector to create jobs and increase prosperity," wrote Scheer.

Andrew Scheer speaks during the Conservative leadership debate at the Maclab Theatre in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (Codie McLachlan/Canadian Press)

"That is why I am grateful for the endorsement of Gail Shea, former regional minister for P.E.I."

"I am a real conservative who believes in lower taxes, a principled foreign policy and fiscal responsibility. I will unite the conservatives and beat Justin Trudeau in 2019."

Brad Trost

"You should vote for the candidate you trust most to speak and to stand up for what you believe in," said Trost.

Conservative leadership candidate Brad Trost speaks during the Conservative leadership debate in Saskatoon, Wednesday, November 9, 2016. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

"I am seeking to lead our party because I want to make sure that certain principles are respected in party policy, in opposition and when we win a mandate to govern from Canadians."

"That is why I have advocated family-friendly, child-friendly and seniors-friendly policy. Together, we can make a difference in our party and in Canada for families, children and seniors!"

Chris Alexander

"I want Islanders to play a central role in a renewed Canada, a country turned outwards to new markets, playing a new global role, backed by a strong new economy, opportunity for all and a new era of nation-building solutions for issues from ending poverty to empowering First Nations," wrote Alexander.

Leadership candidate Chris Alexander speaks during the Conservative Party French language leadership debate, Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

"A reinvigorated Conservative Party make this new Canada a reality, but only if our leader has vision, experience and broad appeal, in both official languages, and knows instinctively that Canada's success is based on firm foundations of decency, fairness and fortitude, laid and still strong in P.E.I.!"

Deepak Obhrai

"Islanders should vote for me as I have the experience, common sense, authenticity, and spirit to relate to people of all walks of life and bring them onto our Conservative big blue ship," wrote Obhrai.

Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai speaking at a Conservative Party leadership debate in Quebec. (Jacques Boissinot, Canadian Press)

"Our party has to move forward, not backward, in order to win Canadians' trust again and come back into power: we need to acknowledge the challenges of today and address them accordingly, whether proactively or reactively (depending on their timeliness)."

"The Deepakage vision is full of common sense solutions and I rely on it to get your support!"

Erin O'Toole

"I believe that the road to rebuilding the Conservative Party of Canada starts here," wrote O'Toole.

Erin O'Toole speaks during the Conservative leadership debate at the Maclab Theatre in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (Codie McLachlan/Canadian Press)

"Atlantic Canada is where I got my political start as a volunteer, and it's where I spent much of my military career. My ties to Atlantic Canada run deep and as Prime Minister, I will be a champion for the region in everything I do."

Kellie Leitch

"We need to offer a contrast to Justin Trudeau in the next election and I am the only leadership candidate able to do that," said Leitch.

Conservative leadership candidate Kellie Leitch speaks at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, on Monday March 20, 2017. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

"My plan is to reform our immigration system with face-to-face interviews for immigrants, refugees, and visitors to Canada."

"I will also put a cap on government spending to get the economy back on track and say no to legalizing marijuana."

"I love the Island, I have family roots there, and together we will build a party that will win in Prince Edward Island and across Canada in 2019."

Lisa Raitt

"I believe we need to choose a new leader who can build a strong team and an even stronger Conservative Party across Canada," said Raitt.

"I am seeking to lead the party based on common values of hard work, optimism and self-reliance — the keys to a better future."

Lisa Raitt speaks at a debate in Langley, B.C., in February 2017. (Lisa Raitt/Twitter)

"Our party needs an experienced leader who will keep members united, provides an unmistakable contrast to Justin Trudeau and delivers a persuasive vision to Canadians."

"When you return your ballot in the mail, I'm asking you to vote Lisa Raitt, born and raised in Whitney Pier, Cape Breton, to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. By working together, we can change the future. I can beat Justin Trudeau in the next election."

 Maxime Bernier​

"I will abolish corporate welfare, the supply management cartel, and the CRTC role in telecom," wrote Bernier.

Candidate Maxime Bernier addresses a Conservative Party leadership debate Monday, February 13, 2017 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

"I will get rid of interprovincial barriers that are even more detrimental for small provinces like P.E.I. than for bigger ones, and I will lower taxes for all Canadians."

"My platform will bring fairness and prosperity to all Canadians, including Islanders."

Michael Chong

"As the son of a Chinese immigrant father and a Dutch immigrant mother, I'll build a much bigger, more inclusive Conservative Party that includes Progressive Conservatives from Atlantic Canada," said Chong.

Federal Conservative leadership candidate Michael Chong is shown during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

"I understand the challenges facing Canadian families — my wife Carrie and I have three young children, William, Alistair and Cameron. We also live on a farm in southern Ontario, so I understand the importance of farming to P.E.I.'s economy."

Pierre Lemieux

"Pierre had a wonderful time meeting with Islanders when he was in Summerside and Charlottetown earlier this winter<' said the email from Lemieux's campaign.

Conservative leadership candidate, Pierre Lemieux, speaks to members and supporters at a meet and greet in Burlington, Ont., on Sunday, March 5, 2017. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)

"Lots of Islanders share his view that sensitive life issues should be up for debate in the House of Commons. His riding has a significant farming community, and he is a strong advocate for supply management."

"Pierre would work to recruit strong candidates from across the province to speak out on behalf of these Island issues, such as infrastructure and health care funding. We need more people in Ottawa like Gail Shea to fight for what's right."

Rick Peterson

"As you may know, my campaign is based on a fiscal and economic plan of strong tax cuts and job creation," said Peterson.
"I'm proposing, as Conservative Prime Minister in 2019, the elimination of all tax paid by businesses, small and large. Personal federal income tax rates will be capped at a level 15 per cent for everyone."

Rick Peterson participates in the Conservative leadership candidates' bilingual debate in Moncton, N.B. on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

"The budget will be balanced within two years through a combination of increased consumption taxes, increased economic growth and a cuts in federal government spending back to levels where the Conservative government left office in 2015."
"The effect of this plan will be to put an extra $4,200 in the pockets of every family in Canada, based on a family of four with two working parents. The estimated $200 billion boost to Canada's economy would be a strong, powerful and immediately felt catalyst for job creation and growth in P.E.I. and all of the Maritimes."

"As a fully bilingual, private sector candidate with 30-years experience at the grassroots of our party, I am best positioned to beat Justin Trudeau, help elect MPs in the Maritimes, and win a Conservative majority in 2019."

Steven Blaney

"As Minister of Veterans Affairs, I preserved and consolidated the Veterans Affairs Headquarters in Charlottetown," said Blaney.
"As Minister of Public Safety, I authored the anti-terrorism Act in order to keep Canadians safe. I am committed to putting safety first and tackling illegal immigration."

Leadership candidate Steven Blaney speaks during the Conservative Party French language leadership debate, Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in Quebec City. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

"In order to stimulate growth in the Atlantic, I'm engaged in countering outmigration and helping farmers."

Conservative Party leadership candidates Kevin O'Leary, Andrew Saxton, Andrew Sheer, Rick Petterson, Chris Alexander, Michael Chong, Lisa Raitt, Kelie Leitch, Maxime Bernier and Steven Blaney, left to right, stand for a photo prior to a debate Monday, February 13, 2017 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)