Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu is running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, CBC News has learned.
“I’m ready to lead and I can bring the party together. I can bring a winning strategy. And that’s what we need,” Gladu told CBC News in an exclusive interview.
She’s the first caucus member — and the only woman so far — to declare her intention to run.
“We need somebody that’s going to bring a better balance of fiscal responsibility and social compassion,” she said. “I’m looking at all the people running and it’s all the same-old, same-old.”
Gladu said she’ll be able to come up with the $300,000 entry fee and collect the 3,000 signatures from party members required to put her on the ballot.
“I have the money, I have the backing, I have a campaign manager,” she said. “I have folks to do communications, policy and strategy. I’ve got a travel coordinator. I’ve got a chair in every province of the country. So we’re ready to go.”
Gladu on the carbon tax
Gladu, 57, is a second-term MP for Sarnia-Lambton. She was a professional chemical engineer for over three decades.
“I’m the kind of strong dynamic leader that has 32 years of global business experience and as an engineer I tend to solve complex problems. We certainly have lots of those in government,” she said.
Gladu said her background in chemical engineering taught her to take a “science-based approach” to problems. Asked how she would approach climate policy as Conservative leader, she said she would allow provinces to decide if they want to ditch the current carbon tax.
Gladu also said she would come up with a better climate plan than the one outgoing Conservative leader Andrew Scheer presented in last October’s election.
“The provinces have jurisdiction to decide if that’s something that they would like to have. I think there are better ways of getting the [emissions] reduction but we all need to work together in order to achieve those Paris targets and to help the rest of the world,” she said. “[The carbon tax] not a very good mechanism and certainly it would be punishing to see that go higher.”
Gladu said that her climate plan would take more of a “regulatory and incentivized approach” than the Liberal government’s current carbon pricing plan.
“Clearly we need to do more here at home. We’re not going to make our existing Paris targets with the existing plan. So we’ve really got to focus on the top three, which are major industrial emitters and transportation and buildings,” she said.
Gladu on pharmacare
Gladu is currently the Official Opposition health critic and vice chair of the Commons standing committee on health. In 2017 she successfully got a private member’s bill passed to ensure better access to quality palliative care across Canada. She said she’s pleased the Liberal government is putting a framework together for palliative care and moving forward with some funding.
But Gladu said she doesn’t think Canadians need a universal pharmacare plan because most already have drug plans of their own in place.
“You know the $15 to $40 billion that the Liberals and NDP want to spend for people? There’s less than two per cent of Canadians that don’t have a plan today,” she said.
Gladu on getting along with people
Gladu said her ability to work with people across party lines is one of her main assets. In 2016, based on a secret ballot vote of MPs, Maclean’s magazine named Gladu the “most collegial parliamentarian” of the year.
“It’s incredibly important for the country … to get good outcomes. But that skill set is something that you need wherever there’s [a] diversity of views,” she said. “Even within our own Conservative Party, there’s a wide range of people in the blue tent. And so, being able to hear them and work together to come up with a strong plan to win is going to be key.”
Some voices within the party have blamed Scheer’s reluctance to explain his views on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage in part for the party’s disappointing performance in the last federal election.
Gladu said she thinks those issues have been settled in the minds of Canadians and she would be happy to walk in Toronto’s Pride Parade, which is happening the same weekend as the June 27 leadership convention.
She said she is fluent in French. “I worked for Dow [Chemical] in Quebec for ten years and five years with Worley Parsons,” she said. “So back and forth travelling through there with all the clients, I picked up a lot of French. And since I’ve been here in Parliament I’ve had a French tutor to help me learn parliamentary jargon.”
Gladu has two grown daughters and a remarkable range of non-political hobbies: she has a black belt in Taekwondo, is an amateur stand-up comedian and sings in a band.
The only other potential female candidate being talked about right now is former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose. She is expected to make her intentions known next week.
Gladu said the prospect of being the only woman in the race doesn’t rattle her.
“It’s important to have a female in the race. But I would tell you that I’m used to being the only one,” she said. “I was in engineering and when I started I think there were 13 per cent women, so I was always the only woman there. And I would say I hold my own very well.”
In the 2017 Conservative leadership race, only two of the 14 candidates were women: Lisa Raitt and Kellie Leitch.