Canadian Politics

Jean Charest won’t run for CPC leadership

Only a week after sources said Stephen Harper would oppose Charest’s run, the former federal Progressive Conservative MP, and Liberal Premier of Quebec has issued a public statement.

Charest wrote that many had made “insistent calls” on him to put his name forward, and he spent time thinking of what Canada needs, both internally and internationally.

“I am deeply concerned that the Canadian population is politically divided and that this has become an obstacle to our development,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

“Our country needs a national political alternative that aims to represent each region of Canada without exception.”

Charest added the rules of the leadership race favoured an external candidate, referencing the tight deadline in particular. While the race officially opened a bare week ago on January 13, all candidates for leadership must meet the requirements by March 25.

The official rules state that candidates must have the support of 3,000 people who have been members for at least 21 days. There is also a $200,000 entry fee as well as a $100,000 compliance deposit.

The statement, barely two paragraphs long, had room for much more. Because of that, it can be presumed that what he did include was of particular importance to his decision.

“On the environmental front, the (CPC) will also have to present a credible and ambitious plan for the management of our natural resources and the fight against climate change,” he said.

“One does not exclude the other!”

It’s a rallying cry many would like to hear from the Official Opposition but it doesn’t look like Charest will be making it on their behalf.

He also said something disheartening for more moderate conservative supporters;

“My positions on several societal issues are based on deep convictions. It is clear that the Conservative Party of Canada has undergone a profound transformation since I left in 1998.”

A “profound transformation”. Oof.

In the last post, I wrote about the potential that the leadership race offered for a more palatable leader to moderates, or poor partisans, who are willing to give their votes to other parties.

Certainly Charest was not the best the CPC could ever possibly hope for, but his parting words don’t inspire confidence.

An unfortunate development, indeed.

Charest was someone who I thought could potentially be the unifying presence that is so desperately needed in the conservative movement and Canadian politics in general.

*Real* conservatives might disagree.

Story ideas? dmaclean@countersign.ca Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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