Former MP Andrew Saxton, businessman Rick Peterson join list of Tory hopefuls

Financial services executive Rick Peterson pauses while announcing he will run for the federal Conservative party leadership, during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday October 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OTTAWA - The Conservative leadership race has two more names — both from British Columbia — on its growing list of contenders.

Andrew Saxton, Conservative MP for North Vancouver for seven years before losing his seat in the last election, and Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson both launched campaigns Tuesday to replace former prime minister Stephen Harper as party leader.

The two highlighted their experience in the business world.

"I am the only candidate who has significant financial experience in both the private sector and in government," said Saxton, who served as parliamentary secretary to two finance ministers and the president of the Treasury Board during his time in the previous Conservative government.

Saxton underlined that experience, which he said included being part of the team that helped the country weather the 2008 recession.

"I would be committed to taking steps that would create a vibrant, free and unfettered economy that gives every Canadian the opportunity to both contribute to and share in our nation's progress and prosperity," Saxton said in remarks prepared for his campaign opening.

Peterson, meanwhile, said he plans to focus his campaign on his ideas for the economy, such as getting rid of corporate income taxes.

Peterson, a bilingual Alberta native who lost a 2014 bid to lead the B.C. Conservative party, also wants to boost terrorist surveillance and enhance security screening for immigrants, but stops short of a values test like the one put forward by rival Kellie Leitch.

"I will say no to an idea that would inevitably lead to an Orwellian 'citizenship values committee,' staffed with busybody bureaucrats," Peterson said in speaking notes sent by his campaign for his own launch event.

Peterson said he would also help ensure the Conservative grassroots have a stronger voice in the party, by giving more power and resources to local riding associations.

Neither candidate has filed his paperwork or paid the first $25,000 instalment of the registration fee required to officially register as a candidate, but both say they are working on these.

The Conservatives are to elect their new leader next May 27.

The official candidates so far are Conservative MPs Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Deepak Obhrai, Andrew Scheer and Brad Trost, but several others, including Ontario MP and former cabinet minister Lisa Raitt, as well as former MP Chris Alexander, are also expected to declare.

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