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Tony Clement teases supporters with Twitter leadership preview

Conservative MP Tony Clement will announce Tuesday he intends to run for his party’s leadership and, true to form, he has taken to Twitter to telegraph his campaign message in advance of the launch.

Clement is expected to make his announcement at 7:00 p.m. ET. CBC News will carry the announcement live.

Clement, a minister in former prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet, is something of a social media maven who has been critical of the party’s campaign in the last election.

“We do need to re-evaluate and adapt to the shifting Canadian political landscape but this does not mean throwing out the good with the bad. We must be the political organization that represents those basic tenets that define conservativism,” Clement said during an election post-mortem at the Manning Conference in February.

“It’s time we listened to our party members and grassroots, many of whom have more election experience and plain common sense than the central campaign demonstrated,” he said, noting social media should be at the forefront of the 2019 election campaign.

Clement has a large presence on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, where he shares videos and pictures with his thousands of followers, often profiling his personal life and his fondness for rock music.

The longtime politician joins three other Conservative leadership hopefuls, all of whom are his fellow House caucus colleagues. 

Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong and Kellie Leitch launched their campaigns earlier this year after the Tory leadership process formally began. Milton MP Lisa Raitt is another possible contender. Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose has vowed not to run despite being the subject of a “Draft Rona” campaign by some committed supporters.

2nd run at the leadership

This is Clement’s second run at the party’s leadership. In 2004 he placed third against Harper and auto parts mogul Belinda Stronach.

The Parry Sound–Muskoka MP has altered his appearance in recent months ahead of his foray into the political spotlight, purchasing new glasses and trimming his hair.

He took a dig at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while at the barbershop Tuesday, referring to a Conservative attack ad launched last summer that branded the then Liberal leader as inept but physically attractive.

Clement said he would outline his vision for the party during his campaign launch event in Mississauga, Ont., but he has already said the party needs to have more coherent environmental policies in the wake of the Paris climate change accord. He has also signalled he would scrap subsidies for CBC/Radio-Canada.

Bernier has sought to brand himself as the libertarian candidate by taking provocative policy positions: vowing to scrap Canada’s telecom regulator, dismantle supply management and end “corporate welfare” subsidies to private businesses.

The other candidates have yet to release any formal policy planks.

Clement’s political career began at University of Toronto where he was president of the campus Progressive Conservatives.

He later worked as a staffer to former Ontario premier Mike Harris where he helped to draft the so-called Common Sense Revolution, a series of policies pitched as a way to shrink the size of the provincial government and lower taxes after Bob Rae’s time as NDP premier.

The U.K.-born Clement was then elected to Queen’s Park in 1995. He held a number of cabinet portfolios under Harris before the ruling PCs were voted out of office in 2003.

He ran for leadership of the Ontario PCs but was ultimately bested by Ernie Eves.

The federal Conservative Party will elect its new leader on May 27, 2017.

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Former Conservative cabinet minister Tony Clement will launch his bid for the party leadership today in Mississauga, Ont. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press.)

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