Politics

Businessman Rick Peterson is taking a second run at the Conservative leadership

The Conservative leadership race is getting its first Western Canadian candidate: Edmonton-based venture capitalist Rick Peterson, who ran and lost to Andrew Scheer in 2017.

'I'm probably going to be the only candidate who has to meet a payroll,' Peterson tells CBC News

Alberta businessman Rick Peterson says he's "all in" for a federal Conservative leadership run. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The Conservative leadership race is getting its first Western Canadian candidate: Edmonton-based venture capitalist Rick Peterson, who ran and lost to Andrew Scheer in 2017.

CBC News has learned Peterson filed his papers with the party on Tuesday. His team is now collecting the 1,000 signatures from Conservative members he needs to enter the race by the Feb. 27 deadline.

"We cannot have a Conservative leadership race without a voice from the West," Peterson told CBC News.

"I am an outsider. I am not an MP but, on the other hand, I've got some business experience that we're looking forward to bringing to the table. And it's vital."

Peterson will formally announce his candidacy next week at High Arctic Energy Services, an oilfield services company near Edmonton. The choice of location is symbolic: Peterson is planting his flag as the party's western-based champion of the energy sector.

"The grassroots of the party are in Western Canada," he said. "So the Conservative Party has to take a leadership role. And has to continue taking a leadership role on the resource file.

"And my candidacy from the heart of the resource sector, from Western Canada, will be a strong, bold platform of policy ideas, including the resource sector, in both official languages across the country."

Peterson said he'll also be pitching policies on carbon pricing for large emitters, digital privacy, deregulating the banking and telecom sectors, helping students with their loans and eliminating corporate income taxes.

Plans for Quebec

Peterson is fluently bilingual. He has family in Quebec and said that he and his team will devote a "big part" of the campaign to building support there.

"I have a grandson, he is Quebecois. Born a year ago and he's giving me one more reason to come back to Quebec on an ongoing basis. I can't wait to see him," he said.

"A big part of our campaign is going to be in Quebec. I was lucky to have lived in France for 10 years as a young man so my French is pretty good."

Peterson said he'd hoped to back Rona Ambrose's leadership bid. The former interim Conservative leader confirmed today that she's not running.

"We're in. We're all in. Once you launch, you can't back out," Peterson said.

Peterson finished at the back of the pack in 2017 — 12th out of fourteen candidates, with just 0.7 per cent of the vote by the time he was eliminated.

Peterson said he knows the current race could be a tough one for him as well, with party heavyweights like Peter MacKay, Marilyn Gladu, Pierre Pollievre and Erin O'Toole primed to run.

"They have the advantage of name recognition. They have an advantage of a network, I'm sure, across Canada," he said.

"I'm probably going to be the only candidate who has to meet a payroll, who's hiring and firing people, who's working in the private sector. So we all have our strengths, we all have our weaknesses. So I'm going to be highlighting the fact that I can understand the economy and jobs and making sure that the Conservative Party is at the forefront of creating jobs and employment in Canada."

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

About the Author

Hannah Thibedeau

Parliament Hill

Hannah Thibedeau is a veteran political reporter having covered the Hill for more than 15 years, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. She covers politics for CBC TV, CBC Radio and CBC Politics online.

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