The Conservative leadership race is expected to be hotly contested and Brandon University Associate Professor Dr. Kelly Saunders points out this is a critical race for the party.

Six candidates are running to become the party’s next leader.

“We’re seeing some infighting happening between some of the candidates which is to be expected and that’s only going to heat up. Everyone is trying to establish themselves from their opponents.”

“This is the most important leadership race since the party was established in 2003. We’re at a crossroads. We’ve seen some past leaders not being able to really bring the party together in a way that can mount an effective challenge I think to the federal Liberals in terms of winning power” said Saunders.

Party members will select their next leader September 10th.

Kelly Saunders says the party has to break out of it’s primarily western Canada base. “They have to find a way of reaching out to urban Conservatives in vote rich provinces like Ontario and Quebec. They also have to reach out to new constituencies and can’t simply rely on their base and have to reach out to new voters.”

The challenge for the next leader will be bringing the party together on policy issues to take to the voters.

“Ask former leader Erin O’Toole and he’ll tell you that’s the dilemma for the party and it’s virtually impossible. It’s such a challenge with so many factions within the party. You always have factions in every party but the way politics is more polarized those strains are hard to reconcile.”

When Canadians will head to the polls Dr. Kelly Saunders says anything is possible when you look at minority governments.