Andrew Scheer deserves to continue to lead Conservatives
It’s October 21, 2019. The dark of night has descended upon the city and the nation. The reality sets in…THIS IS IT! All the door knocking, all the phone calling, all the campaigning in person and online, all the GOTV (get out the vote) activity, all the toiling, all the dollars… all the effort spent over the last 3 months has now been committed to the history books. The only thing left to do is to count the votes and see what the future truly holds for our communities and the country at large.
As time ticks by the crowd continues to trickle into the campaign office, CBC is on, computer screens flicker and hum, and GlobalTV’s Election Night Poll Tracker server is being hit with a refresh request once per second. As the poll reporting continues to roll in, every move of the seat counts up or down is met with audible feedback from the large group of volunteers, campaign staff and the assorted family members they’ve brought in tow that now are filling up the office. The excitement and the anxiety are palpable.
As the night proceeds, the mood becomes increasingly somber and the realization that tonight isn’t going to turn out the way we’d hoped begins to set in. Acceptance of this fact won’t catch up with most of us for a couple days yet. When the speeches have all been given, the hugs have all been hugged and the office begins to empty out, we are collectively met with a strong sense that though things didn’t turn out the way we wanted, they may ultimately yield a positive result. The signs are there.
With the rising of the sun on the Oct. 22, regular life begins again. The dawn brings with it a renewed sense of optimism. This optimism comes from an ability to more clearly reflect on the outcomes of the evening prior and what those outcomes truly signify moving forward:
1) Yes, we got beaten, but our biggest rival was held to a minority.
2) Yes, we got beaten, but in the process we grew the number of seats we hold by roughly 20%.
3) Yes, we got beaten, but we won the popular vote (representative of the hearts and minds of the broader populace). This point is particularly critical because I believe it sent the Liberals the only message they understand; the people are displeased and the power and control you enjoy today is transient, so be warned.
4) Yes, we got beaten, but we also got a tremendous amount of insight into what worked and didn’t work, both for us, as well as for our opponents.
5) Yes, we got beaten, but the country spoke and I believe that I heard what they said. As is a typical course of action for most human beings, in failure you seek out a place to lay blame. A single place where you can lay responsibility that isn’t directly in your own lap. It’s totally natural. Many localize their anger. They point to shortcomings of the campaign staff or the “ground game” or of specific efforts or actions that didn’t result in the success they’d anticipated. Some pointed at the easy scapegoats like Ford or the specter of Harper’s last days in office and the negativity that was attached to his name and tenure. Many want to point the finger squarely at party leadership and shrug off local or historical contributing factors altogether. Some split it right down the middle and blamed everybody.
As Oct. 22 became Oct. 23 the long knives came out and the calls for leadership change became louder. With all due respect, however, I find this position to be intellectually lazy. Let’s analyze it.
1) Andrew Scheer emerged as leader from the ashes of one of the most contentious, scorched-earth leadership campaigns we’ve seen in a long time. Bernier’s inability to graciously accept defeat and his refusal to recognize Andrew’s victory paved the way for the war that followed and the rift it created in the Party. The dissention in the ranks and the lack of unity didn’t wear well on either side of this rift, much less so for the PPC than the CPC, however. To emerge from this type of situation with a fighting chance of simply maintaining the seat count we had secured the last time around, would already have been an accomplishment. To post gains under this cloud of disarray and party infighting, speaks volumes to Andrew’s natural leadership potential. There are MANY ridings where it is clear that the vote splitting on the ideological right as a result of the above, demonstrably cost the CPC the seat.
2) It has become clear that Canadians, particularly millennial and younger Canadians that have now come of age and are quickly becoming the largest voting demographic in the country, are hungry for younger, more generationally synchronous leaders. This can be seen across the board in both the private and public sectors. Case and point is the sheer (pardon the pun) number of 20 and 30 somethings that picked up seats under the banner of the Bloc in Quebec. We have examples of this in our own party as well on both the provincial level, as well as the federal level. Andrew, though a family man with five kids and a seemingly long history in the political arena, is barely scratching 40. His youthful energy and ability to connect with younger voters are truly assets. It’s my view that given more of an opportunity to really connect with younger voters directly and personally (i.e. all day, every day, over the next 18 months), Andrew could overcome the characterization of him as indifferent, stuffy and disconnected from their world view that he’s been saddled with by political enemies and a hostile media.
3) Andrew is a builder. It’s evident by looking at his history and track record. Anyone who has ever built anything or had something built for them knows that building properly takes time, patience and attention to detail. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s also not something that happens on YOUR schedule. Reflecting on what’s transpired over the last couple years and in particular the last 90 days has provided some perspective. Andrew secured the leadership post and immediately got to work laying the foundation for the party’s path forward. A platform was developed, a strategy was put in place, a message was crafted and he took the show on the road. Hundreds of campaign stops, tens of thousands of hands shaken and babies kissed… every ounce of blood, sweat and tears you might expect. The campaign was fought in the face of massive opposition by the media, by the 2 other major parties, by the back-biting from within our own party and by the emergence of a new contender who’s solitary goal was to leech voters away from the CPC in an effort to teach the party a lesson. The protest vote.
With all this opposition, with all the pitfalls and unexpected twists and turns, Andrew’s leadership and the party’s message still broke through. Huge seat gains, reduction of power by the victors to minority status, securing of the popular vote and a round rebuke of the defectors from the party are not small things. They are actually quite substantial and established a trajectory that trends toward success.
Under the continued leadership of Andrew Scheer we are poised to achieve this success. The message has clearly already begun to resonate and so the task now turns to amplification of that message and deeper penetration into the demographics we didn’t win over this time. I sincerely believe that the economic message of the Conservative party cannot be challenged by our opponents and as such they turn to what they know: character assassination and identity politics. Andrew Scheer has proven to be the candidate that can weather those storms. With the continued support of ALL (small c) conservative-minded people across the country I am certain that we can follow the course he’s set forth for victory.
The leader of the Conservative party of Canada has resigned after a disappointing election loss where he took the popular vote but lost the path to victory, allowing another Trudeau government.
Andrew Scheer will be resigning from the Conservative leadership role after intense internal party division largely made his position impossible, according to sources that have spoken to the Globe and Mail.
According to Global News, the resignation also came after it was revealed that party funds were used to send Andrew Scheer’s children to private school.
Mr. Scheer announced the decision at a special caucus meeting on Thursday morning.
The decision comes after former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird published his autopsy of the election which was highly critical.
According to Sun Journalist Brian Lilley, the decision will become public once a new leader is selected by the party.
With Scheer out, many have begun to wonder who will be the interim leader and who will run in the following leadership race.
With interim leaders normally staying out of leadership races, multiple high ranking officials will have to weigh their options and decide if they would rather keep the party united, or choose to run as Andrew’s potential replacement. Some pundits believe Conservative insiders such as Erin O’Toole or Peter Mackay could be gunning for that position, due to their brand power and instances which have occurred since the election of Trudeau.
For example, Peter Mackay has harshly criticized the party’s campaign, comparing it to missing on an open net, while O’Toole has voiced his disappointment with results in Ontario, especially with the loss of key figures such as Lisa Raitt.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre slammed the minority Liberal government and the media at a Sunday press conference in Ottawa, where he called on Finance Minister Bill Morneau to come up with a plan to “restart” the sagging Canadian economy that shed 71,000 jobs last month.
“Others here in the bubble, inside Ottawa, might be fascinated by the palace intrigue of leadership politics,” replied Poilievre to a reporter’s question about his party leader Andrew Scheer’s viability at the Conservative helm.
“But if you’re one of those 71,000 people who just lost your job in November, you probably couldn’t care less.”
Poilievre and the Opposition Conservatives are calling for on Morneau, “to present an urgent fall economic update to salvage Canada’s teetering economy.”
Last week, Statistics Canada posted the worst one-month job loss numbers in the country for a decade as 71,000 additional people were out of work for November 2019. This included 18,000 in British Columbia and 18,000 in Alberta. It was especially terrible news for Alberta as it has already shed more than 150,000 jobs since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first took office in 2015.
According to the Carleton MP, whose riding is on the outskirts of the “Ottawa bubble”, the update should come with “major tax cuts for entrepreneurs and workers, so they can spend and invest and get out economy moving again.”
The Conservatives also want the government to cut “the insane, high levels of red tape holding (entrepreneurs) down,” said Poilievre. “(And) reassure investors by presenting a reasonable plan to help phase out the deficit in the medium term.”
With just five sitting days in the House of Commons scheduled before the Christmas break, Poilievre took exception with media queries about whether there was enough time to accomplish the task.
“You seem to be suggesting that our prime minister spent his first 10 days after the election surfing rather than working… the election was in October, they’ve had plenty of time,” replied Poilievre, referencing Trudeau’s Tofino trip, a post-election holiday he took after the October 21 vote.
“The storm clouds of our economy have been gathering overhead for a long time (and) the average Canadian wasn’t surfing in November. The average Canadian was worried about his or her job…and then we got a report that south of the border they had a quarter million new jobs.”
“So this is a made in Canada problem. It requires urgent action and we’re calling on the government to take that action by calling for a fall economic update.”
As for Morneau, Poilievre said if the finance minister were “competent, he’s got it already written. But that is not a safe assumption.”
“We’re prepared to work through the Christmas break, if necessary… and I’m sorry if Liberals have vacation plans. Cancel them.”
Asked whether the Conservatives red-tape cutting, lower taxes mantra was in need of an overhaul in light of the previous election result that boosted Conservatives presence in the Commons but failed to unseat Trudeau, Poilievre bristled.
“The trendy pundits that you bring on CBC… they tell us that we need to abandon everything we believe in. That we need to embrace big government, high deficits and high taxes,” replied the Carleton MP.
“That is the absolute worst thing Conservatives could do. That would be an electoral, political and economic disaster for the country if we went down that road. Our goal is not just to fit in with the four socialist parties. Our goal will be to stand out. To stand out as the only voice of taxpayers.”
Conservative MP (Durham, Ontario) and Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs Erin O’Toole released a video calling out the Trudeau government for failing to save the two Canadian hostages detained by the Chinese government a year ago in retaliation for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou being arrested on charges from US authorities of fraud, as well as allegations of violating sanctions placed on Iran. The video was released on the one-year anniversary of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor being arrested by the Chinese government.
“This week marks one year since Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were imprisoned by the Chinese state in an act of retaliation for the lawful arrest of a Chinese citizen in Canada,” says O’Toole at the beginning of the video, released Sunday on social media.
“Twelve months the Chinese citizen has been staying in a $13 million Vancouver mansion and she wrote about taking up oil painting. Our citizens are in cells with the lights on for 24 hours. They have half an hour of consular access each month. They are cut off. They probably feel abandoned. Twelve months, two ministers, two ambassadors, zero progress,” O’Toole continues.
Although sources within the Conservative Party of Canada have been saying O’Toole is looking to usurp leader Andrew Scheer’s position, for now it appears he’s put aside his leadership ambitions.
“Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer, are going to be bringing this debate to Parliament. We need a plan from Justin Trudeau. From his earliest days he’s been naive when it comes to China.”
(Scheer faces a leadership confidence vote from CPC members in April.)
Some political commentators on social media noted that O’Toole came across as more confident and charismatic in the video than Scheer has as leader.
According to a Nanos poll from four months ago, only 10 percent of Canadians have a positive view of China.
Although most political experts in the West believe the two Michaels were arrested for spurious charges, Chinese authorities claim they both threatened China’s national security.
The political party one chooses is not a matter of being right or wrong. I see it more as a matter of the values you hold, and it isn’t as simple as saying that one value is right or wrong.
John Stuart Mill said in his essay “On Liberty” that many pairs of values are in tension without one “right” or “wrong” value. He gives the examples of individualism and collectivism, liberty and restraint, etc. Most people cannot hold both values in equal measure and give them their due, and nor can a political party. We need political parties of opposing values to represent things like the free market as opposed to the value of government intervention, or personal responsibility versus assisting the marginalized, among many others.
Your ideology and political party is not about holding the right values, but rather about the perspective from which you search for the truth. The Liberal Party of Canada will never see the value of the free market as clearly as a true conservative, and the Conservative Party will likely have a blindspot for areas where government intervention is justified and beneficial.
Therefore, Canada needs a strong Conservative Party. We need it to make the case for the free market, individual responsibility, and to question movements of “social progress” before we test the depth of the water with both feet. Conservatism plays a role of restraint, of sober second thought, and of understanding the benefit that a free market can bring.
Under Andrew Scheer, the Conservative Party isn’t playing its role. In politics, there’s a time to lead and a time to listen. Scheer has almost exclusively been listening. He hasn’t been a leader who confidently pitches a conservative vision and conservative solutions to Canada. Instead he’s relied on polling data to see which policies would be readily accepted by enough people to give him a slim advantage in the polls.
There’s a big problem with the Conservative Party leader not leading: Canada generally isn’t a conservative country. We tend to trust our government not to abuse power. We tend to think that government intervention can accomplish a lot of good. Without an articulate Conservative Party leader, we will not naturally produce conservative solutions and roll back graft and government getting too big.
The lack of a Conservative voice under Scheer harms us when we’re trying to solve the big issues of our time, because a conservative perspective is valuable to solving the big issues even if you’re a non-conservative.
Let’s take climate change as an example. How much value are we losing in the fight against climate change by not having Conservatives at the table? Every prominent voice speaks only of government solutions. We need people who understand the benefit government can bring to a huge issue like this.
But think of the possibilities of adding free market solutions to government intervention. Think of the benefit of having a strong voice for nuclear power, revenue neutrality in the carbon tax, and private sector innovation for climate change. It’s not an either-or issue solution when it comes to climate change.
But under Scheer’s leadership, these solutions either aren’t talked about, or they’re given lip service.
Think of the possibilities of addressing poverty with a Conservative voice at the table. Trudeau has contributed to poverty reduction with the Canada Child Benefit, which provides a monthly lump sum to parents (though I note that this initiative does not only target people in poverty).
What is the conservative value-added to the debate on poverty reduction? I would suggest that it’s the understanding of incentives and personal responsibility. A perfect example is the centre-right BC Liberal Party, which introduced the Single Parent Initiative in 2015. The Initiative provided single parents a way out of poverty by paying for the parent’s tuition payments for training and childcare for their dependants, all while keeping their social assistance cheque. It wasn’t just a handout. It was a fundamentally conservative policy.
Scheer never made any bold proposals like this. For affordability, Scheer did a mix of targeted tax credits providing minimal relief along with simple handouts that could have just as easily been proposed by the Liberal Party, like making EI parental leave benefits tax-free. Stephen Harper provided more leadership by proposing that parents getting EI parental leave could earn self-employment income without having their benefits clawed back. Recognizing the incentives that could get someone back to work is a conservative skill.
We can also consider the value of Conservatives on social issues. People with dangerous amounts of self-certainty are quick to sneer that you shouldn’t be on the wrong side of history, but there have been times when the forces of “social progress” ended up being complete nonsense. Forced sterilization of certain groups of people in order to improve the human race comes to mind.
The problem is, we can’t really know which progressive movements are the “right side of history” without hindsight. Conservatives can provide second thought and value for how things have traditionally been done. We don’t thoughtlessly dismiss the past.
We need that restraint in the topics of social progress today. Laws like Bill C-16 have restricted people’s freedom to speak out on the topic of gender identity. The law passed with nary a peep from the formal Conservative Party. Conservatives, fresh off of realizing that they had the wrong side of the legal marriage debate, seem reticent to weigh in on this social issue and defend the civil liberties of people who question gender identity ideology, even when most common sense people would want them to do this.
Now, people who are far from conservative, like feminist Meghan Murphy, are seemingly alone in their fight against gender identity ideology and standing up for civil rights.
Imagine the assistance that an articulate Conservative leader could bring to this debate that’s happening outside of our formal political scene. We don’t know, because Andrew Scheer never talks about this issue in public. It’s too divisive for him.
Without Conservatives at the table, our society is going all-in on one side of the ideological spectrum. We’re abandoning one side of the ideological tug of war that’s healthy for a society, and that could result in our country going over the edge of a cliff. We’re losing solutions that matter to the issues you care about.
It’s not just that the Conservative Party that deserves better. Canada deserves better. Canada deserves strong Conservatives.