Former commons speaker Andrew Scheer retains an overwhelming lead in publicized high-profile leadership endorsements from past and current Conservatives, as well as other politicians, as the party edges toward a March deadline for the 14 current candidates to sign up new members for the May vote.
Mr. Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) had accumulated more than 50 endorsements from politicians, senators, and former MPs, putting him well-ahead of the other candidates, based on their publicized endorsements thus far.
On Tuesday, leadership contender Maxime Bernier (Beauce, Que.) drew a high-profile endorsement from the West Coast. A press release from Mr. Bernier’s office states that former Conservative MP Gary Lunn, who represented Saanich — Gulf Islands in British Columbia and was a cabinet minister during Stephen Harper’s leadership, is officially backing his bid. The press release says Mr. Lunn is one of 14 other prominent Conservatives endorsing Mr. Bernier, including MPs, former MPs, and senators, as well as a member of the Saskatchewan legislature.
Mr. Bernier has said that “with 42 ridings, British Columbia is a key battleground in the Conservative leadership race.” But Mr. Scheer’s published list of endorsements suggests the three Prairie provinces will also be crucial.
Mr. Scheer’s endorsements include 19 sitting MPs; nine representing Alberta federal electoral districts, four in Saskatchewan, three in B.C. two in Ontario, and one in Manitoba, according to his website.
Meanwhile, another leadership candidate from Saskatchewan—social conservative Brad Trost (Saskatoon-University, Sask.)—has been in the contest since August, but has yet to post any endorsements on his candidate site.
Mr. Scheer, meanwhile, has been showered with endorsements from 20 MLAs with the Saskatchewan Party, which includes both Liberals and Progressive Conservatives.
“Conservatives need to offer a different vision than Trudeau, we can’t just be Liberals who are good at math,” quips Mr. Scheer’s website. “I am a real Conservative who will offer a positive vision for our country. I am a leader who can unite our movement and take on the Liberals.”
Mr. Scheer, a family man with a more reserved approach to religious matters despite being a member of the Roman Catholic church, also has the official support of six former Conservative MPs, and six siting senators.
His current endorsements from the House of Commons include Scott Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Ont.), Sarnia-Lambton, Ont., MP Marilyn Gladu; Saskatchewan MP and former agriculture minister Gerry Ritz (Battlefords-Lloydminster, Sask.); and Alberta MP Kevin Sorenson (Battle River-Crowfoot, Alta.).
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Erin O’Toole (Durham, Ont.) has 20 MPs and former MPs listed as endorsments on his website.
*Editor’s note: an earlier version of this story incorrectly described Mr. Scheer as a member of a branch of the Roman Catholic church known as Opus Dei.