MPs Weigh In on New Tory Leader
Prince George, B.C. – The Conservative Party of Canada has chosen a 38-year-old parliamentarian representing the Saskatchewan riding of Regina-QU’Appelle as its new leader, the first MP from that province to hold the position since John Diefenbaker led the party from 1956 through 1967.
Social conservative Andrew Scheer was elected leader at the party’s convention in Toronto on Saturday, coming through on the 13th and final ballot to edge Quebec MP Maxime Bernier by a margin of 50.95 percent to 49.05. Bernier had led on every ballot from the first with Scheer holding a firm grip in second spot throughout. It was not until that final ballot, after third-placed Erin O’Toole dropped off, that his 21.26 percent support was carried to the two remaining contenders and pushed Scheer over the top.
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer had backed Scheer, former Speaker of the House. Zimmer says “we always were confident that Andrew would be the leader of the Conservative Party and be the best choice. It’s a great pleasure to be part of that team. To see him slowly close the lead and then on the final ballot to actually win was an incredible thing to watch.”
“I’m more than happy for Andrew and what Rona (Ambrose) has done up til now, too, as that compassionate conservative and Andrew will continue along that same line of compassionate conservatism.”
Zimmer calls Scheer, who was born in Ottawa but now represents a Saskatchewan riding, “a bit of a mix. He’s got a really good understanding of the French language and he’s a perfect mix of Ontario and the west that I think we’re looking for in Ottawa. You need to understand the whole country.”
Zimmer sees Scheer’s youthful 38 years as a strength heading toward an election in 2019. “He’s younger than Trudeau (and his family) are just down-to-earth people. I always say we need more normal people in Ottawa and Andrew definitely fits that bill.”
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty backed third-place finisher Erin O’Toole in the race. Coming out of the convention he says “we’ve got a united caucus that’s strong, and Justin better watch out for Monday because we’re coming at him. We’ve got our leader in place, Rona Ambrose has done a great job (as interim leader) and now Andrew is going to lead us through to 2019 and will be the next Prime Minister of Canada.”
Doherty says the new leader’s message is that regardless of who you are and what your beliefs are, there’s room in the party for everyone. “We need to move forward as a unified team and welcome to all, our doors are open.”
And he thinks Scheer has a full understanding of western concerns. “Oh absolutely, here’s a guy from Regina-Qu’Appelle, he is for all intents and purposes a western MP, and let’s not forget that after the loss in 2015 Andrew was a part of our leadership team, getting us ready to go and moving us forward.”
“I’m pretty sure that with the right mix, the right balance in terms of our caucus he’s going to be very well aware of all the issues and challenges, not just in western Canada but clear across Canada.”
Where does Doherty see himself fitting into Scheer’s plans? “Well, I hope that the work that we’ve done over the last 18, 19 months has proven that we’re a strong voice in our caucus, that we’re not afraid to do heavy lifting. Whether I stay on as critic for Fisheries and as the national voice for softwood, I’m hoping that that’s the case, I guess we’ll see.”
“I’m looking forward to our first caucus meeting Monday morning.”