Tories choose Rona Ambrose as interim leader

Alberta MP Rona Ambrose, former health minister, is the Tories' interim replacement for former leader Stephen Harper

Photograph by Blair Gable

Photograph by Blair Gable

OTTAWA – The federal Conservatives have chosen Alberta MP Rona Ambrose as their interim replacement for former leader Stephen Harper.

“I’m excited that we are going to be moving forward with a strong opposition with confidence and optimism,” the former health minister said following a lengthy caucus meeting Thursday.

“I am extremely proud to be the new leader of the Opposition.”

There were eight candidates in total for the post, which comes with an extra $80,100 in salary, a car and driver and the residence of the official leader of the Opposition — Stornoway.

They included Alberta MP Mike Lake; Diane Finley, Rob Nicholson and Erin O’Toole from Ontario; and Manitoba’s Candice Bergen. Calgary MP Michelle Rempel and Quebec’s Denis Lebel ran on a joint ticket.

A key political task ahead of Ambrose will be to rebuild the party heading into the eventual formal leadership race, likely still a long way off.

The Conservatives saw their support collapse in last month’s election, losing every seat they held in Atlantic Canada, a lone outpost in the north, dozens of ridings in Ontario and even a few in their stronghold of Alberta.

Ambrose said she’s confident the party can enter a new era with a new tone and a new attitude, with their sights set on the next election in 2019.

“My colleagues chose me and they put their trust in me,” she said. “We feel very optimistic about our chances in the next election.”

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