Canada ex-foreign minister Baird says won't seek Tory leadership

John Baird, Canada's former Foreign Minister, speaks about the Conservatives during the election campaign in Richmond Hill, October 11, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Monday he would not run for the leadership of the Conservative Party to replace Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who led his party to electoral defeat on Oct. 19.

"While I have indeed received expressions of interest and am tremendously flattered by the support, I will not be running for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada," Baird said in a statement.

"When I retired from politics, I spoke about starting a new chapter in my life. I am extremely happy with this new chapter and will remain dedicated to my work in the private sector."

The Conservatives will be ending nearly a decade in power on Nov. 4, when they hand over to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who won a majority of seats in the House of Commons. Harper intends to step down at the helm of his party.

Conservatives and political pundits have been saying that at the very least the party will have to try to espouse a sunnier tone to try to match Trudeau's positive outlook.

Baird had stepped down before the election and has moved into the corporate world.

Defense Minister Jason Kenney, a social conservative who was credited with winning over immigrant communities in his party's 2011 election win, is widely seen as a leading contender to take over as Conservative leader.

Other possible candidates are Treasury Board President Tony Clement, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, former Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Labour Minister Kellie Leitch and Michel Rempel, junior minister for western economic diversification.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)