Conservative interim leader Candice Bergen says leadership contenders should avoid calling those they disagree with on policy “not Conservative.”
Bergen, who has led the party since early February, says Conservatives shouldn’t play “identity politics” by pitting one group against another — for instance, social conservatives versus Red Tories.
“When you wedge, divide and polarize, people are pulled down, they’re not lifted up. So as a party, we should not be doing the same thing we’re criticizing the Liberals for doing,” she said in an interview Thursday with The Canadian Press.
The Manitoba MP and former deputy leader took over the party’s top job after a majority of MPs voted to oust Erin O’Toole after weeks of anger and tension that built behind closed doors.
The Conservative party is set to pick its new permanent leader Sept. 10.
At least eight candidates have entered the race, including former Quebec premier Jean Charest, Brampton, Ont., Mayor Patrick Brown and Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre.
Poilievre’s campaign has dismissed Charest as being a Liberal for having led the federalist Quebec Liberal Party after his time as leader of the former Progressive Conservative party in Ottawa.
Bergen says she believes leadership candidates must account for their past actions and honestly tell members where they believe the party needs to go in the future.