Rona Ambrose proud to promote female critics, and 'not because it's 2015'

Rona Ambrose is still getting used to her new digs at Stornoway, the official residence of the leader of the Opposition. But she's already renovated the Opposition's front benches in the House of Commons.

Interim Conservative leader talks about her early weeks in the job in a year-end interview

Ambrose reflects on her dynamic female MPs

6 years ago
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose tells Susan Lunn in a year-end interview she chose strong performers who happened to be women for key Opposition roles. 1:13

Rona Ambrose is still getting used to her new digs at Stornoway, the official residence of the leader of the Opposition.

She's also settling into her new job as interim Conservative leader. One of her first tasks was to pick the shadow cabinet for the opening of Parliament earlier this month.

Ambrose has said repeatedly she wants to strike a new tone in the Commons.

But she's also brought a new look, which was evident in daily question period. The Conservative questions were dominated by women, from Ambrose herself to Lisa Raitt as finance critic and Michelle Rempel as immigration critic.

"These women are so strong and they are so smart and I was so happy to put them up front," Ambrose said in a year-end interview with CBC News.

"And it's not because it's 2015," Ambrose said, in a subtle dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's answer to a question about his gender-balanced cabinet on the day of his swearing-in. "It's because they're strong."

Lining up for a leadership race

She says Conservatives are having fun, both holding the new Liberal government to account, and getting ready to pick a new leader for the first time in a decade.

"There's a number of people in our own caucus that might become the new leader and they're excited, we're excited for them. There might be some people from the outside coming in. So I just think it's exciting for everyone," Ambrose said.

That list of people in caucus right now includes names such as Raitt, Jason Kenney, Maxime Bernier and Kelly Leitch. (Ambrose has already said that, as interim leader, she will not be seeking the permanent job.)

But Ambrose says she's also spoken to people outside caucus, and her hope is that the race will be wide ranging and that party members will be open to different ideas.

"It might be something that is not in our party platform, is not part of our policy currently and we have to be respectful of one another," she said.

On a quick tour of Stornoway, Ambrose shows off one of her favourite rooms, one lined with shelves of books along most of the walls.

The collection has been added to by every opposition leader who has lived here, going back to John Diefenbaker.

Ambrose says she likes to try to figure out who read which book.

She could have some time to do that, as a growing number of Conservatives argue the party should not pick a new leader until 2017.

Perhaps Ambrose will leave a few books of her own.


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