Politics

Leslyn Lewis runs for Conservative leadership again — this time with a political track record

Leslyn Lewis became a star in the Conservative Party of Canada during its last leadership race. Now she's making another run at the leadership — this time with a political track record that places her firmly to the right of the Conservative political spectrum.

Her comments on vaccination and claims about a ‘socialist coup’ in Canada could re-emerge during the race

Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis speaks during the English debate in Toronto on Thursday, June 18, 2020. (Tijana Martin / Canadian Press)

Leslyn Lewis became a star in the Conservative Party of Canada during its last leadership race.

Now she's making another run at the leadership — this time with a political track record that places her firmly to the right of the Conservative political spectrum.

Lewis officially announced her candidacy in a tweet on Tuesday, featuring a video of her speaking in the House of Commons. She accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of "failed leadership" and called for compassion for all Canadians.

"This isn't about who's right and who's wrong. It's about who gets to be a part of this conversation. And the only acceptable answer to that question is everybody, every Canadian,"​ she said.

Lewis was widely praised for her performance in the last Conservative leadership race. She came in third overall and won the most votes of any candidate in the province of Saskatchewan — despite having no ties there.

Much of the attention Lewis attracted during the race focused on her approach to politics — described by one veteran conservative strategist as a "breath of fresh air."

A social conservative, Lewis told supporters about her own decision to not have an abortion after becoming pregnant while articling at a law firm. Her promise to unite the country and the party was a cornerstone of her campaign message.

Since that race, the lawyer with the PhD has become the MP for the Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk. She wasn't given a critic portfolio by former leader Erin O'Toole, so the public hasn't seen much of her in the House of Commons. But Lewis has still found herself in the public eye at times due to her controversial statements.

Lewis on vaccination

Lewis has raised questions about the efficacy of vaccinating children. She has compared her treatment by the media to a lynching and has alleged Canada is the midst of a socialist coup.

In October, she spoke out after a House of Commons policy required everyone working in the House of Commons to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a medical exemption.

"The media and the power structure expect me to sit in the back of the bus. I won't!" Lewis tweeted.

"They will try to paint me as a reckless lunatic in order to lynch me into silence. I will always tell Canadians the truth, and no bully or threats will succeed against us!"

Lewis has not confirmed her own vaccination status, saying she believes in medical privacy.

She also used Twitter to question the plan to vaccinate children aged 5 to 12, prompting criticism from a public health official in her own riding.

Lewis suggested Canadian children were being used 'as shields' by adults and that many parents questioned the need for vaccinating 5 to 12 year olds against COVID "without long-term data."

A child receives a COVID-19 vaccine dose in Winnipeg. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Asked about Lewis' comments, the head of Norfolk EMS said remarks that are "anti-vaxx or possibly not based on science" make it harder for health officials to get more people vaccinated.

"We encourage people to follow the science and trust your family practitioners — the people that deal with your health care on a daily basis," said Chief Sarah Page of Norfolk EMS, according to a report from The Hamilton Spectator.

The vast majority of scientists agree that COVID-19 vaccines reduce both transmission of the virus and the frequency of serious illness.

Lewis was one of several Conservative MPs who met with participants in the anti-vaccine mandate truck convoy that took over parts of downtown Ottawa earlier this year. Lewis insisted in late January that the protest was a gathering of "loving, law-abiding Canadians" and a statement against government overreach.

Lewis warns of a 'socialist coup'

In October 2020, Lewis claimed the pandemic and the economic measures the federal government enacted to address it were leading to a troubling state of affairs in Canada.

In an op-ed in The National Post, Lewis insisted the country was "quietly undergoing a socialist coup". She argued Prime Minister Trudeau was using social spending to address the pandemic's effects as a means to control Canadians' lives through economic dependency.

She also raised fears about surveillance, saying that many Canadians are worried.

"They have told me that they are afraid the Liberals will impose a social credit score, similar to the one that exists in China where people's behaviours are monitored through 5G cameras," she wrote. "For this reason, they also distrust the COVID Alert app."

Lewis is just the second candidate to officially announce, joining long-time MP Conservative Pierre Poilievre.

Conservative MP for Carleton Pierre Poilievre was the first to officially declare himself a candidate for the Conservative leadership. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Former Quebec premier Jean Charest and Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, Ont., are both expected to launch their campaigns later this week, according to supporters.

Conservative MP Michael Chong has said he's considering entering the race and fellow MP Scott Aitchison told Global News he is preparing a bid.

The Conservative Party will select its next leader Sept 10.

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