Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Scott Aitchison may be considered a dark horse in the race to be the next Conservative Party leader, but he doesn’t see it that way.
“There’s no question I’m not nearly as well known as some of the other candidates, but that’s about to change,” he says.
At his campaign launch Sunday at Huntsville’s Canvas Brewing Company, Kenora MP Eric Melillo threw his support behind Aitchison.
“My mission on this campaign is to just continue to share a positive message of principled conservative positons that lift people up, bring people together, support people that are most vulnerable in our society and demonstrate pride in who we are as Canadians and what we have to offer the world,” he says. “I’m a little disappointed with how things work in Ottawa. It’s all about the partisan attack line. It’s about using divisive rhetoric to pit one group of Canadians against the other just to win a few more votes.”
The former Huntsville mayor joins a field of seven other candidates vying to be the next Conservative leader. Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre, Haldimand-Norfolk MP Leslyn Lewis, York Centre MPP Roman Barber, former Quebec Premier Jean Charest, businessman Joseph Nourgault, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, and Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge MP Marc Dalton are, so far, the other candidates in the running.
“It’s not an easy thing to do something like this so I congratulate them all,” he says, adding he looks forward to the debates as the Sept. 10 leadership election approaches.
Until then, Aitchison says he will be “crisscrossing the country” to talk to people about how he can unite the party. “I think my message, and my approach, is going to resonate,” he says.
“I’m not running for second place,” Aitchison says, adding he isn’t in this in hopes of getting a prominent cabinet position. “I think I have the rights skills to bring out party together.”
“It’s a big task, but I’m ready for it,” Aitchison boldly says. “The training I’ve received here in 20 something years of municipal politics where you’re about solving as opposed to getting a sound bite and eviscerating your opponent. That’s what Ottawa is lacking.”
While his focus for the next six months will be on the leadership race, Aitchison says he won’t forget about his riding. “Parry Sound-Muskoka is right in the middle of the country,” he says. “I have to criss-cross back and forth. I’ll be here regularly. I’ll still do my job.”