WATCH: Alberta’s justice minister doesn’t play along with journalists’ game
During a scrum at the Alberta legislature, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer showed the way Conservatives need push back on loaded, biased questions shot their way by left-wing journalists.
Eric Duncan, a newly-elected Conservative MP, says his party should change its approach to LGBTQ issues to resonate with more of the electorate.
“I think we need to work on how we make ourselves a modern Conservative party, and that includes being more inclusive on that issue,” said the new MP for Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry to CTV.
“I’m looking forward to playing a role in that and helping shape that a little bit more in the coming months and years,” said the Conservative MP, who is gay himself.
Numerous political pundits have said that CPC leader Andrew Scheer’s ambiguity on issues such as same-sex marriage hindered his chances of election.
Kory Teneycke, a former director of communications for former prime minister Stephen Harper and campaign manager for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, said that Scheer will have “big problems” with voters if his position on same-sex marriage remains unclear and “associated with bigotry.”
“In terms of actually being successful in being elected to be the prime minister of the country, I think it’s a deal-stopper,” he said.
Former Conservative minister Peter MacKay said many women turned away from the Conservatives because of Scheer’s “social conservatism.”
When asked if he still supports Scheer remaining as party leader, Duncan said he wants to hear Scheer’s explanation of the election results and how the Conservatives can gain power.
Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay are looking at runs for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, according to a well-connected source within the party who’s close to prominent figures of the CPC.
“O’Toole is waiting for the dust to settle” to launch his leadership bid, “I assume he is waiting for the caucus meeting next week,” said the source to The Post Millennial.
O’Toole currently serves as the Official Opposition Critic of Foreign Affairs and ran for the Conservative Party leadership in 2017, finishing third behind Maxime Bernier and Andrew Scheer.
Multiple CPC sources spoke to The Post Millennial on the condition of confidentiality.
MacKay, a former minister in the Harper government, has also been establishing the foundations of a leadership bid according to the one source. “MacKay has had top organizers in Toronto for a meeting last week,” said the one source to The Post Millennial.
“Its categorically false,” said MacKay to The Post Millennial. “I met with former candidates that I supported during the campaign. I met with a group who were putting together a lecture series on [former Nova Scotia premier] Robert Stanfield.”
Earlier this week MacKay criticized Scheer for his stance on social conservatism, telling reporters that issues like abortion and immigration “hung round [Scheer’s] neck like a stinking albatross.” MacKay added that Scheer’s failure to defeat Trudeau “was like having an open net and missing the net.”
After MacKay had made these comments, he soon backtracked, stating on Twitter that his recent comments only had to do with addressing Conservative policy rather than the party’s leadership.
“We’ve been discussing what happened in the campaign and how we can improve our showing in the next election,” MacKay said.
“My open net comment was in response to what the Conservatives did to lose the election with all the ammunition that we had: SNC, blackface, India, all of the vulnerabilities of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, and how did we manage to lose?” continued MacKay. “I made probably what was a flippant remark, but nevertheless, it seemed to encapsulate that it was like shooting a breakaway on an open net and missing.”
“[My comments were aimed at] the collective, the party, the election. It was not aimed at Andrew Scheer. Of course, a lot of people want to interpret it that way and want to use it as a cudgel to beat Andrew Scheer over the head with. Andrew Scheer is the leader, I supported him during the campaign, I continue to support him,” MacKay said when asked if the buck stops at the leader for the election loss.
“I worked my tail off away from my job and family to do everything in my power to help him become the PM of Canada and I would do it again. So I take some umbrage when I get questioned as to my loyalty— you know, somebody said that ‘MacKay wasn’t on the ice’, well I was on the ice for 18 years, I campaigned in 50 ridings last campaign, and I helped put the party together, I have a vested interest in seeing a Conservative government.”
Mackay previously served as the leader of the Progressive Conservative party before it merged with the Canadian Alliance, before Harper took over the united party.
During the 2017 Conservative leadership election, O’Toole received similar support to Scheer within the party’s caucus.
Sources within the party say as many as 50 caucus members, including senators, are entertaining the idea of pushing for a leadership confidence vote at next Wednesday’s caucus meeting. At least 25 MPs—20 percent—need to sign a notice to trigger the confidence vote.
Scheer’s office didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.
The Post Millennial could not reach O’Toole for comment.
On the Oct. 21, in a stale Saskatawan hotel room, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer walked onto a stage, telling a depressed audience that the “Conservatives have put Justin Trudeau on notice … when [the Liberal] government falls, Conservatives will be ready and we will win.”
Despite the applause that this comment provoked in that conference room, there has been a rumbling drone of discontent towards Scheer’s leadership, pervasive throughout background Conservative circles. On Monday, the establishment media finally became aware of this from Doug Ford’s Twitter, where an anti-Scheer message was retweeted to an audience of over 140,000 people. Ford inevitably denied that there was any intention behind this, and some unfortunate staffer subsequently found himself to be searching for another job.
Before Ford’s retweet, the anti-Scheer movement was previously confined to a caste of shunned or irrelevant Tory figures. Take, for instance, the first female Prime Minister Kim Cambell, who stated that Scheer was “hard to trust.” This comment would have been a damning indictment if it happened to come from any other Conservative ex-prime minister, but as it was from Campbell, who has recently taken a public turn to the left on social media— it is unlikely to leave a scratch.
This is a similar story to ex-PC leader Patrick Brown, who has been ostracized from his party in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations. Brown, in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star, argued that the Conservative Party needed a modernizing figure who would fight for the values of environmentalism and multiculturalism; much like he did in Ontario one might think cynically. Like Campbell, Brown’s comments will hardly send shockwaves through a party that has used everything in its arsenal to dispel of him.
Aside from retired Conservative politicians, a “Scheer Must Go” campaign was created by the young advocate, Anthony Koch. Unfortunately, the only available method of measuring this campaign’s support would have to be through social media. On Twitter, the campaign is yet to surpass 500 followers, thus making it improbable that any of Scheer’s inner circle would be losing too much sleep over its conception.
Next year, Scheer will have to face a leadership review in Toronto on April 16-18. During the convention, members of the Conservative Party will vote on whether Scheer should stay on as leader. As a result, there may be some anxiety amongst Scheer’s inner circle, especially if Tory heavyweights like Peter MacKay choose to run.
Despite the Scheer Must Go campaign failing, so far, to gain any popular support, it still remains difficult to tell whether the frustration of Trudeau’s re-election will materialize into something more bloodthirsty.
In many ways, the Conservative campaign was a last stand against the era of celebrity politics.
That last stand failed.
Andrew Scheer, despite clearly being a good family man, was among the most boring candidates of all time. He had an even smaller emotional range than the notoriously unemotional Stephen Harper. After all, Harper at least got angry once in a while.
Scheer represented an anti-celebrity, someone whose “personality” is the fact that they don’t have one. Despite doing alright in some of the debates, Scheer was like a product that simply didn’t appeal to enough of the public.
Of course, on a personal level everything I’m saying about Scheer is unfair. He clearly has a personality with those who know him, and he clearly has a lot of people who support him and think he would have been a good PM.
But on a political level, what I’m saying is correct. And the political level is what the Conservatives have to deal with today.
The Conservatives attempted to spin Andrew Scheer’s anti-celebrity status as a strength, calling him a “steady,” “balanced,” and “reasonable” leader.
But most Canadians just saw him as boring.
And even worse, the fact that Scheer was so boring made him unable to wrest control of the media message.
Because of the massive anti-Conservative bias of the establishment media, any Conservative leader in the modern era must be able to generate their own media machine. Social media gives a leader the chance to bypass the establishment press, and get out their views directly to the Canadian People.
Yet, that only works if the candidate delivering the message has celebrity level-influence, or at least has the ability to generate strong reactions.
In the final days of the campaign, Andrew Scheer was forced onto the defensive, after reports that the Conservatives hired a group to try and discredit the PPC. A celebrity leader may have been able to simply own up to it with bracing honesty, and then shift attention elsewhere in the final hours of the campaign.
Instead, Scheer and the Conservatives finished weakly.
The problem is that Scheer’s lack of celebrity status created a media vacuum around him, and the Liberals gleefully filled that vacuum with their horrendously cynical and dishonest (but politically effective) fear-mongering. The lack of tactical flexibility also didn’t help.
At this point, it’s time to accept the reality that we live in a world where celebrity politicians dominate.
Canada has a celebrity leader.
America has a celebrity leader.
The UK has a celebrity leader.
Ukraine has a celebrity leader.
And many other countries are moving in that direction.
So, the Conservatives must adapt or perish. There are lots of smart policy people behind the scenes who can write platforms and govern. But in today’s communications environment, a party leader must be able to generate controversy, draw clicks, views, shift focus, and fill that vacuum before the Liberals and establishment press does.
After the failure to defeat Trudeau, it’s time for the Conservatives to embrace celebrity politics if they want to win power.