“We’re going to have the strongest opposition party that Canadians have ever seen,” Ambrose promised after a caucus meeting that opened with a short speech from former prime minister Stephen Harper.
Harper led the Conservative Party in the October 19 federal election, which was won by the Liberal Party of now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Ambrose vowed to work with her caucus and senators to “hold the Liberals accountable,” but said she would do so while being “extremely constructive.”
Ambrose said Harper had no say in the decision. He was seen leaving Parliament through a back door shortly after the meeting began.
The interim position comes with an extra $80,100 in salary, a car and driver, and the official residence, Stornoway.
Ambrose will oversee the party as it selects a leader to go up against the Liberals in a general election expected four years from now. Although some have suggested that leader should be chosen within a year, others have said the party could wait as long as two years. Ambrose was born in Valleyview, Alberta, grew up partly in Brazil and holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Alberta. She is 46 years old. Before she was elected to the riding of Edmonton– Spruce Grove in 2004, Ambrose worked as an advocate for the prevention of violence against women with the Status of Women Action Group and the Edmonton Women’s Shelter.
In 2006, she won the seat of Edmonton-Spruce Grove and was made Minister of Environment in Harper’s first cabinet, earning her the distinction of the youngest female minister in history.
Ambrose went on to handle the portfolios of intergovernmental affairs, western economic development, labour, public works and government services, and status of women, before she was named Minister of Health in 2013.
Conservative MP Larry Miller was in the meeting where the interim leadership vote took place, and said Ambrose is experienced and a good communicator. “I think it’s definitely time for a woman to lead this party,” he added.
Miller said that Harper “took full credit for the loss” in his speech to caucus.
Peter Kent, one of only a few Toronto-area MPs re-elected on Oct. 19, said that his old boss “left the room respected and loved.”
MP Michael Chong, who was re-elected in the Ontario Official Opposition, holding the new Liberal government to account.”