Jim Conrad is a Canadian politician. He has campaigned for public office on several occasions, and has been active with no fewer than five different political parties throughout the course of his career.
In private life, Conrad is a petrochemical engineer with extensive experience in the oil sector. A newspaper report from 1978 lists him as 47 years old, with twenty years experience working for multinational corporations such as Texaco, Shell, Union Carbide and Sun Oil (Globe and Mail, 7 April 1978). During the 1980s, he became the executive director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Petroleum Marketers. He was a frequent critic of the major firms during this period, and often accused them of overcharging Canadian consumers (Globe and Mail, 21 February 1987). In late 1987, he was a vocal opponent of the Brian Mulroney government's free trade deal with the United States (Globe and Mail, 30 November 1987).
He has long been active in Canadian politics, having joined the Liberal Party of Canada in the late 1970s. In 1978, he was chosen as executive director of the Committee for an Independent Canada, a group which promoted economic nationalism in industry (Globe and Mail, 7 April 1978). Conrad sought the Liberal Party nomination for Etobicoke Centre in the 1988 federal election, but lost to Mary Schwass (Globe and Mail, 24 June 1988). He also sought the party's nomination in Mississauga South, but lost to Gil Gillespie (Toronto Star, 26 September 1988).
In 1990, Conrad was an Etobicoke organizer in Jean Chrétien's bid to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. He was criticized for a letter he wrote to Croatian groups in the riding, which read, "It is particularly important that Croatians be seen to support Chrétien. Otherwise, when (Paul Martin) loses, which is likely, then Croatians will not have many friends with Chrétien supporters." He later apologized (Toronto Star, 19 April 1990). Conrad continued to oppose the Canadian-American Free Trade Agreement at the 1992 Liberal Party convention, and also criticized prominent party figures for what he described as an attempt to silence pro-life delegates (Toronto Star, 23 February 1992 [two articles]).
Members of the anti-abortion group Liberals for Life won control of the Etobicoke Centre Liberal association in 1992, leading to media speculation they would endorse Conrad as their candidate (Toronto Star, 19 November 1992). Conrad initially planned to contest the riding nomination, and indicated to the media his desire to run a pro-life and anti-free trade campaign in the 1993 election (Toronto Star, 20 November 1992). Ultimately, however, he did not seek the nomination. There are conflicting reports on the reason for this: Conrad claimed the party refused to sign his nomination papers, while the party argued that he was accepted, but resigned in favour of another pro-life candidate (Toronto Star, 3 September 1993). He heckled Chrétien at a Toronto campaign stop during the 1993 election (Toronto Star, 4 September 1993).
Conrad campaigned in the 1993 election as an independent candidate in the riding of St. Paul's. He received 245 votes (0.48%), finishing in eighth place against Liberal candidate Barry Campbell. Conrad campaigned in favour of "a strong, central government, protection of individual rights, sustainable development and reforming the justice system to provide tougher laws against violent crime" (Toronto Star, 22 October 1993).
After the election, Conrad joined the right-wing Reform Party of Canada. He became president of the party's St. Paul's association, but resigned in 1996 after a falling out with party leader Preston Manning. He was quoted as saying, "They are control freaks in Calgary. Manning can't let go and a serious lack of trust has developed. Reform will not win anything with Manning as leader" (Kingston-Whig Standard, 25 May 1996). Conrad remained in the party, and attracted controversy in the 1997 election, when he warned provincial Progressive Conservative legislators that they could face nomination challenges if they supported the federal Progressive Conservatives against Reform (Globe and Mail, 1 March 1997).
In the 1999 provincial election, Conrad was a candidate of the socially-conservative Family Coalition Party in the Willowdale riding. He finished fourth against Progressive Conservative candidate David Young. In 2000, he was a vocal opponent of Tom Long's bid to lead the Canadian Alliance, a successor to the Reform Party. Conrad accused Long of authoritarianism, and wrote, "As a social conservative, I believe all the Bible is true. Everywhere the Bible opposes oppression and supports justice. Never mind the life and gay issues—all of us would lose our political and economic freedoms under Tom Long." He also noted his continued opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Conrad later joined Paul Hellyer's economically nationalist Canadian Action Party, and ran under its banner in the 2000 federal election. He finished last in a field of seven candidates in Markham. He ran as a member of the Progressive Canadian Party in the 2004 election, and placed fifth in Oak Ridges—Markham.