Social conservative Brad Trost the 6th Tory to enter leadership race

Social conservative Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost is the sixth Tory to announce his intention to seek the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage candidate promises 'principled' and '100% conservative' option

Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost is the most socially conservative member of his party to enter the leadership race. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan MP Brad Trost is the sixth Tory to announce his intention to seek the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

The social conservative MP launched his website Tuesday billing himself as "a 100 per cent conservative" touting his opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

"Brad is an active member of the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus and is an uncompromising defender of traditional marriage, most recently leading the fight to retain the Conservative Party's support for traditional marriage in its policy handbook," the website reads.

Trost, who is currently on a family vacation in Mongolia, will be returning to Canada after Labour Day, when he will hold a press conference and unveil some of the key policy planks of his bid to lead the Tories into the next election.

"His big motivating factor is he's concerned that there is not a lot of principled leadership," said campaign spokesman Mike Patton. "The way the Conservative Party has been trending in the last little while is, you know, to be reflective of polling and wherever the wind may take them."

Patton said that Trost will not try to figure out what the public wants and craft policies to deliver on those wants, but rather to set a principled direction for the party and go out and sell it to the Canadian people.

"He's a Christian and he believes, for example, that life begins at conception," said Patton. "He feels that he cannot agree with abortion as a result, so he's not going to change those points of view, but that doesn't mean that the party cannot have legitimate discussions about these or any other issues."

What motivates voters

Should Trost be successful, he would be running against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next election, when some of those socially conservative views could make it difficult for the Saskatchewan MP to attract a broad enough base of support to send the Tories back into government. But Patton said he's not worried.

"There's more people who hold socially conservative views than you might reasonably expect," said Patton. "But more importantly, that these issues are very often not the issues that motivate people when they go to vote."

Trost, a former exploration geophysicist, was first elected to Parliament in 2004 and has served as a backbench MP and member of the natural resources committee for most of that time.

He is the sixth Conservative MP to enter the race after Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Deepak Obhrai, Tony Clement and Maxime Bernier. Conservatives will select their new leader in May 2017.