Two Ontario members of Parliament switched allegiances in the Conservative leadership race Tuesday as growing divisions prompted them to throw their support from Patrick Brown to Pierre Poilievre in the name of party unity.
Flamborough-Glanbrook MP Dan Muys and Dufferin-Caledon MP Kyle Seeback previously signalled their support for the Brampton mayor in March, but now say Poilievre is the candidate who can pull the party together.
“Let’s put the divisiveness away, unite our movement behind #Pierre4PM,” Seeback wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning.
I believe there's one candidate – one my constituents support – who can unite conservatives & Canadians to become our next PM.
Let's put the divisiveness away, unite our movement behind #Pierre4PM & defeat Justin Trudeau to win the next election.
— kyleseeback (@kyleseeback) June 7, 2022
Muys followed up shortly after, backing Seeback’s sentiments.
“I am increasingly concerned about the divisiveness,” Muys wrote on Twitter of the party’s leadership race. “Let’s unify behind Pierre Poilievre.”
Let’s unify behind @PierrePoilevre
Canada needs him & us to get this done. https://t.co/qZ25cs3K3n
— Dan Muys, MP (@DanMuysMP) June 7, 2022
Party unity has been a growing concern for the Conservative faithful since the fractious leadership race began, and has only intensified as rhetoric from the various camps has become less forgiving.
Brown, Poilievre, Jean Charest, Leslyn Lewis, Roman Baber and Scott Aitchison are all expected to appear on the first ballot of the leadership election in the fall.
Brown already enjoys less favour from sitting caucus members than most of his opponents, and the loss of the two MPs means he has only two left on his side, including campaign co-chair Michelle Rempel Garner.
Seeback told reporters back in March he supported Brown in part because of his vocal opposition to Quebec’s secularism law, which bans religious symbols for civil servants in positions of authority.
“There are a lot of cultural communities that take things like Bill 21 very seriously and I think Patrick is going to be the guy to push on that and he’ll be a great leader,” he said in March.
He also said he felt Brown had appeal in the Greater Toronto Area, where Conservatives are trying to grow their support.
Seeback and Muys did not immediately respond to requests for further comment on their decision to switch camps.
Several candidates have claimed to be the only ones who can unite the party once the race is over and heal divisions that have festered since the last election.
But the race could get uglier before that happens, now that the deadline to sell memberships has passed and candidates look to shake their opponents’ support before the vote in September.
Baber released a statement Tuesday pressuring the party to release a preliminary list of voters as soon as possible so the candidates can begin their efforts to persuade supporters to their side over the next several months.
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