Lisa Raitt steps down as Conservative finance critic to focus on leadership
Halton, Ont., MP still mulling bid as Erin O'Toole enters the race to succeed Harper
Former cabinet minister Lisa Raitt is resigning from her role as finance critic to focus on a potential bid for the federal Conservative Party's leadership.
In a series of early-morning statements on Twitter Friday, she thanked interim leader Rona Ambrose for the opportunity to serve over the last year. She said she had been making sure that holding the Liberal government to account on the economy was her top priority.
But now, "to ensure full attention, I am stepping aside as finance critic while I continue discussions on the future leadership of the party," she wrote.
To ensure full attention, I am stepping aside as Finance Critic while I continue discussions on the future leadership of the party. 3/3—@lraitt
Although she represents the riding of Milton, Ont., in the Greater Toronto Area, Raitt is originally from Cape Breton and is expected to emphasize her roots in Atlantic Canada in her potential leadership bid, particularly now that fellow Nova Scotian and former cabinet minister Peter MacKay has decided not to run.
Raitt recently disclosed that her husband has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. They just married at the end of the summer.
Erin O'Toole, another former cabinet minister from the Greater Toronto Area, joined the race Friday morning.
The officially registered candidates in the leadership race are MPs Maxime Bernier, Andrew Scheer, Kellie Leitch, Michael Chong, Deepak Obhrai and Brad Trost.
The federal Conservative Party will elect its new leader on May 27.
The contenders, so far
Candidate who has declared, registered and paid the full fee: Michael Chong.
Candidates who have declared and registered: Maxime Bernier; Kellie Leitch; Deepak Obhrai; Andrew Scheer; Brad Trost.
Expected to declare soon: Steven Blaney; Andrew Saxton; Lisa Raitt.
Others who have mused about running but not declared: Kevin O'Leary; Rick Peterson.