A new Tory star?

Celebrated diplomat Chris Alexander may take a run in Ontario

A new Tory star?The star candidates who are trotted out before federal elections tend to have worked in one of several typical careers: lawyer, professor, business executive. But the Conservatives just might have a new recruit for a campaign this fall—or whenever the next election comes—whose resumé reads more like an adventure story.

Chris Alexander is arguably the most celebrated Canadian diplomat of recent years. Just 34 years old when he took over as Canada’s ambassador to war-torn Afghanistan in 2003, his youth, idealism, and a certain air of derring-do have attracted admiring media attention. Alexander went on to become the UN secretary-general’s deputy special representative in Afghanistan, spending six years in the country before coming home recently with his new wife, former Danish army officer Hedvig Boserup.

In an email exchange, Alexander said it would be “premature” to announce anything about his plans right now. However, Adrian Lambert, chief financial officer for the Conservative association in Ajax-Pickering, a riding just east of Toronto, said Alexander has visited the constituency several times and is expected to win the Tory nomination there without a fight. “He certainly has quite a lot to offer,” Lambert said, “as a candidate, as an MP, and one day, as a minister.”

But Alexander will need to get elected first. The riding is currently held by Liberal MP Mark Holland, who won by 3,200 votes in 2008. That was way down from his 8,200-vote victory in 2006, but he remains a formidable incumbent. Holland is a scrappy hometown Pickering boy steeped in local politics. The contrast with Alexander—Toronto-born, Oxford-educated, at home in Kabul and Kandahar—couldn’t be sharper, making the potential battle between them definitely one worth watching.

RELATED: Envoy extraordinary: Amidst the death threats, Chris Alexander tries to fix the problems of Afghanistan (June, 2006)

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