Leslyn Lewis running for the Conservative Party leadership

Born in Jamaica, she immigrated to Canada at age five and grew up in Toronto

Leslyn Lewis. (Photograph by Dimitri Aspinall)

Leslyn Lewis announced on Tuesday, March 8th, that she will be entering the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race, becoming the second candidate to do so after Pierre Poilievre.

“I’m running to lead our party and our country based on Hope, Unity and Compassion,” she wrote on social media, with a video of a speech in the House of Commons blasting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his “failed leadership” in achieving these same goals.

But first, Lewis needs to submit at least 500 signatures from Conservative Party members to officially enter the race. She sent an email shortly after her announcement to her supporters to garner the signatures and to ask them to volunteer in her leadership bid.

The MP for Haldimand-Norfolk already has the full support of social conservative groups such as pro-life organization RightNow.

“We believe that she’s the only candidate who can truly unite the party and has a fresh perspective on various issues and the expertise needed to finally defeat Justin Trudeau in the next election,” said RightNow co-founder Alissa Golob in an interview.

Golob believes that Lewis, a Jamaican immigrant who was a single mom and went to law school before founding her own firm in the Greater Toronto area, could attract some new voters.

“The Conservative Party said in the last election that the next leader needs to focus on new Canadians and female voters. So I think that those demographics will support Leslyn because she is one of them and she is relatable in that way,” she said.

It will be the second time Lewis will be running for leader. She finished third in the race in 2020, causing a surprise by raising more money and by gaining more support than expected, especially in Western Canada and among the social conservative wing of the party.

Former leader Erin O’Toole had promised to give her a strong voice within the party, but sidelined her when forming his shadow cabinet after Lewis had questioned the efficacy of vaccinating children against COVID-19 on social media.

O’Toole was booted out as leader in early February by a majority of his caucus.

Lewis will be campaigning against Poilievre, who has the support of former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and nearly a third of the caucus. Former Quebec premier Jean Charest has also announced that he is running for leader.

Patrick Brown, mayor of Brampton, Ont., and former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, should also announce his decision shortly.