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Conservatives prepare to chart new course at annual convention

Reporter Lucas Meyer

Vancouver will be leaning a little further right than we’re used to Thursday, as the federal Conservatives kick off their annual convention.

The 2,100 attendees are expected to talk about what went wrong in last fall’s election, as well as the process of selecting a new leader, which will happen next year.

Former Prime Minister and Calgary Heritage MP Stephen Harper will be honoured, and make what’s likely to be his final public speech to the party.

He will step down by the fall.

This is a rare chance for party members to openly question the way things are done, since that was tightly regulated by Harper, the only leader the party has ever had.

Mount Royal University Political Scientist Duane Bratt says the process of picking a new leader should galvanize the direction of the Conservatives going forward.

“It has been interesting since the election defeat a number of the things that Harper campaigned on are being repudiated by Rona Ambrose and other senior Tories that are still left,” he said.

As for who will lead the party, Bratt says so far we’ve been looking inside the caucus for a replacement and it will be interesting to see if an outsider will make a run.

When it’s all said and done, the Tories could leave Vancouver with a greener message.

Some high-profile speakers are expected to propose a carbon tax, a low-emissions refinery and other environmental measures.