Conservative Party bars controversial candidate Richard Décarie from leadership race

The Conservative Party has named eight candidates who passed the first hurdle to become a contender in the party’s leadership race — a list that does not include former Stephen Harper adviser Richard Décarie, who made controversial comments about the LGBTQ community earlier this year. 

The party would not say why Décarie’s application failed to land a green light. 

“Eight candidates were approved by the committee. Reasons for not approving a candidate are not disclosed, but it’s not a decision the committee ever takes lightly,” said party spokesperson Cory Hann. 

Décarie is a social conservative from Quebec who caused an uproar when he appeared on national television in January and claimed that being gay is a choice. 

The comments prompted other leadership candidates — including Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Marilyn Gladu — to condemn Décarie’s remarks, calling them “ridiculous” and “unacceptable.” 

In 2016, the party’s rank and file members voted to remove the traditional definition of marriage from from its official policy. 

Kory Teneycke, Harper’s former director of communications, said it was “good news” that Décarie would not move ahead in the race. 

“Candidates have to hold beliefs that are consistent with the Conservative Party’s principles,” he said. “Richard Décarie’s views on sexual orientation are, in the minds of many, bigoted.”

Décarie made Thursday deadline

Décarie made Thursday’s deadline to submit his application to be a candidate, which included an initial $25,000 entry fee and 1,000 signatures from party members who live in 30 ridings in seven provinces and territories.

But to become an “approved applicant,” Décarie’s signatures needed to be verified, his application required review and he underwent an interview conducted by a nine-person Leadership Candidate Nomination Committee.   

CBC News has learned that Décarie’s interview took place Thursday. The committee’s decision then went to the Conservative Party’s leadership organizing committee.

On Thursday, seven candidates had met the first eligibility criteria to replace Andrew Scheer as party leader.

Saturday’s list includes an eighth candidate, former Conservative staffer Rudy Husny, who previously told CBC News that he had the signatures and entry fees needed prior to securing approval.