Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer rises to announce he will step down as leader of the Conservatives, Thursday December 12, 2019 in the House of Commons in Ottawa. In 2019, federal Conservatives sought to sway voters in their direction with the slogan “time for you to get ahead.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

New poll suggests Tories know what they want in a new leader but not whom to pick

Eighty-two per cent want a focus on maintaining balanced budgets

A new poll finds Conservative voters are far more sure about what they want in a new leader for their party than they are about who should fill that job.

A Leger Marketing survey suggests 29 per cent of decided Conservative voters either don’t have an answer or don’t want to give one when asked who they’d like to see at the top of the party.

Leading their wish lists with 18 per cent support each were former leaders Stephen Harper and Rona Ambrose. Harper isn’t running and Ambrose remains undecided.

Those two also led the pack among all the Canadians Leger surveyed, of all partisan loyalties, and in third was former cabinet minister Peter MacKay.

When asked what characteristics their new leader should have, the poll suggests that in some areas Conservatives are pretty clear.

Eighty-two per cent want a focus on maintaining balanced budgets, 71 per cent are looking for someone with prior political experience and 63 per cent want their leader to aim to reduce immigration to Canada.

Leger polled 1,554 Canadian voters between Jan. 3 and 7, as contenders continued to declare themselves as interested in the top job.

The survey can’t be assigned a margin of error because polls from Internet panels are not random samples.

After MacKay, who is still considering a bid, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney received six per cent support among Conservative supporters. But he’s not running.

Among those who have indicated an interest in the Conservative leadership: former Quebec premier Jean Charest has four per cent support, as does finance critic Pierre Poilievre. Innovation critic Michelle Rempel Garner is at three per cent.

The statistical leaders suggest who is stamped with the Conservative brand and who isn’t, said Leger Marketing vice-president Christian Bourque.

“Stephen Harper — Canadians know who he is, he has a brand, which is something that maybe Rona has to some extent, and Peter MacKay because of his length of tenure in Ottawa and everything else,” he said.

“Mr. Charest has it locally in Quebec, Jason Kenney has to some extent out west and the other candidates don’t have it.”

Rempel Garner and Ambrose were the only women whose names were included in the survey. With both undecided about running, there is much debate within Conservative circles about whether there will be a female candidate at all.

That the next leader ought to be a woman only matters to five per cent of decided Conservative voters surveyed, with 17 per cent saying it should be a man and 77 per cent saying the leader’s sex doesn’t matter to them.

Among Canadians overall, 11 per cent said they’d like the next Conservative leader to be a woman, 9 per cent said a man and 76 per cent said it didn’t matter.

A key challenge for the Conservatives in the next election, which the new leader will have to meet, will be expanding their support beyond those already committed to voting for them.

Leger’s poll suggests that if the election had been held on the day voters were polled — even with the party leadership in flux — the Tories would have had the support of 31 per cent of decided voters. That’s about what the party considers its baseline.

Looking at the qualities Canadians overall are looking for, some things leap out, Bourque said.

Sixty per cent of those surveyed want a focus on balanced budgets. Sixty per cent also want a pro-choice leader and 53 per cent want a leader in favour of same-sex marriage.

“People are saying you can be fiscally conservative, I’m willing to listen and I’d like to balance the books as well,” he said.

“But if you want to be a social conservative, I’m not sure you have a chance.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles are ready for playoffs

The bantams will be playing their first two playoff games in Port McNeill this weekend.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The top of Mt. Wolfenden

“A few shots at different focal lengths and then I was back inside editing with a coffee in hand”

Check out a new future at career and education fair in Comox

Event today features booths from more than 40 employers and educational institutions

Book reading: The Blue Haired Girl

Adam Hayes will be at the Book Nook (inside Cafe Guido) Feb. 1 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Veteran Island journalist battles cancer through pioneering treatment

Vancouver Island rallies around JR Rardon and family during stay in Seattle

Women take centre stage at NHL all-star skills competition

Canada beat the United States 2-1 in a spirited 3-on-3 game between female players Friday night

BCLC opens novelty bet on Harry and Meghan moving to the west coast

Meanwhile, real estate agency points to four possible homes for the family

Canada slips in global corruption ranking in aftermath of SNC-Lavalin scandal

The country obtained a score of 77, which places it at the top in the Americas

Wuhan bans cars, Hong Kong closes schools as coronavirus spreads

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said her government will raise its response level to emergency, highest one

B.C.’s oldest practising lawyer celebrates 100th birthday, shares advice

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Most Read