Lisa Raitt launches Conservative leadership bid ahead of debate deadline

Ontario MP Lisa Raitt announces her bid for leadership of the Conservative Party. The party gave potential contenders until 6 p.m. ET today to enter the race if they want to participate in next week's first debate in Saskatoon.

Ontario MP touts Cape Breton roots as she enters crowded race

Conservative MP Lisa Raitt is expected to announce Wednesday afternoon she's seeking the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Ontario MP Lisa Raitt announced Wednesday that she is joining the race for leadership of the Conservative Party, saying she has the right stuff to beat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the next federal election.

Raitt, a former minister in Stephen Harper's cabinet, made it official in a video released on social media, adding her name to a growing list of contenders vying to become the next leader of the Official Opposition.

The Cape Breton, N.S. native said she knows what it's like to grow up poor, and she has seen how the "Liberal path" does little to help those in need, painting herself as the blue-collar alternative to the blue-blooded prime minister.

"Canada needs a leader who is going to fight for the striving many, not just the privileged few. We need a leader who will beat Trudeau in the next election, who knows what Canada looks like from the bottom," she said. "They tell us it's the era of sunny ways and yet so many can't see the sun."

Lisa Raitt enters Conservative leadership race

5 years ago
Milton, Ont. MP, and former Harper era cabinet minister, joins growing field of contenders for Conservative leadership 1:11

The video is interspersed with images of industrial Cape Breton — and its now defunct coal mines — and pictures from her suburban riding of Milton, Ont., where she is seen carrying hockey equipment alongside her two young sons.

The imagery is an ode to two demographic groups she is hoping to attract to her campaign: people from Atlantic Canada, and women in Canada's suburbs.

The party gave potential contenders until 6 p.m. ET today to enter the race if they want to participate in next week's leadership debate in Saskatoon, the first of five party-sanctioned debates in total. The second, a bilingual debate, will be on December 6 in Moncton.

CBC News confirmed she filed her registration papers Tuesday, and that she will hold a news conference Thursday to formally throw her hat in the ring.

Raitt resigned as caucus finance critic last month to focus on her candidacy.

The federal Conservative Party will elect its new leader on May 27, 2017.

The contenders, so far

Candidate who has declared, registered and paid the full fee: Michael Chong.

Candidates who have declared and registered: Chris Alexander, Maxime Bernier, Steven Blaney, Kellie Leitch, Deepak Obhrai, Erin O'Toole, Andrew Scheer, Lisa Raitt, Brad Trost.

Potential candidates who have declared only: Dan LindsayRick Peterson, Pierre Lemieux, Andrew SaxtonAdrienne Snow.

Others who have mused about running but not declared: Kevin O'Leary.

With files from the CBC's Janyce McGregor


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