Conservative leadership gets committed candidate as political heavyweights mull options

Bryan Brulotte, CEO and chair of the employment firm MaxSys Staffing and Consulting, said late Sunday he intends to step into the federal Conservative leadership race to replace Andrew Scheer. While not a household name, the veteran political organizer and businessman has deep roots within the party.

Bryan Brulotte, veteran political organizer and businessman, intends to enter race

Bryan Brulotte, a veteran political organizer and businessman with deep roots within the Conservative Party, says he intends to run for the party's federal leadership. (Leading Seaman Anne-Marie Brisso/Canadian Forces Support Unit (Ottawa))

A veteran political organizer and businessman will step into the federal Conservative leadership race to replace Andrew Scheer, CBC News has learned.

Bryan Brulotte, the CEO and chair of employment firm MaxSys Staffing and Consulting, said late Sunday he intends to run.

"I'm in," he said in a telephone interview. "I'll need to see what rules the party lays down, but it's safe to say I'm fully committed to running. My decision was taken after extensive consultation and encouragement from party members across Canada."

Brulotte said his "extended family has pledged their enthusiastic support" while recognizing the challenges ahead.

His bid comes as two political heavyweights, Peter MacKay and Erin O'Toole, are reportedly still considering their options and putting together teams in order to take over for Scheer, who stepped down last week after two years on the job.

Conservative Party officials have not met to organize the leadership campaign. Brulotte is not a household name, but has deep roots within the party going back more than 25 years when he worked as deputy chief of staff in the office of former public works minister Paul Dick during former prime minister Kim Campbell's brief tenure.

Shortly after the Conservative defeat in 1993, Brulotte formed MaxSys and went on to be a fundraiser and political organizer. He ran unsuccessfully in the riding of Lanark-Carleton for the Progressive Conservatives, under Joe Clark, in the 2000 federal election.

Ground rules not in place yet

The rules and duration of the leadership race have not been settled upon by the party. The Conservative Party's National Council has yet to form a leadership election organizing committee, and discussions about the ground rules are not expected to take place until early in the new year.

"I look forward to reaching out and meeting with party members from coast to coast," Brulotte said. "I think together we can build a united party and a stronger country."

Educated at the Royal Military College, Carleton University, the University of Ottawa and William Howard Taft University in Denver, Brulotte is also a former member of the military who served overseas in both Germany and on United Nations peacekeeping missions with the Royal 22nd Regiment. He's currently the honorary colonel of the Governor General's Foot Guards.

MacKay and O'Toole — both cabinet ministers under former prime minister Stephen Harper — have not formally stepped into the contest. Brulotte is friends with both of them and helped fundraise for MacKay when he ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives in the early 2000s.

Last week, MacKay, who held the foreign affairs, defence and justice portfolios, told CBC News it's far too soon to say if he will run. He said he will not be rushed into making any decision until he's given it a lot of thought.

O'Toole is a lawyer and air force veteran who came third during the Conservatives' last leadership contest in 2017. He has served as the party's foreign affairs critic under Scheer.

Conservative MP Michael Chong, who also ran in the last leadership race, has not closed the door to taking another shot. He told CBC's Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos last week that he expects the race this time to be shorter than the 15-month marathon that was the last contest.

Who's running - and who's not - for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. (CBC News)


Murray Brewster

Defence and security

Murray Brewster is senior defence writer for CBC News, based in Ottawa. He has covered the Canadian military and foreign policy from Parliament Hill for over a decade. Among other assignments, he spent a total of 15 months on the ground covering the Afghan war for The Canadian Press. Prior to that, he covered defence issues and politics for CP in Nova Scotia for 11 years and was bureau chief for Standard Broadcast News in Ottawa.


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