TORONTO—Chalk one up for the agricultural sector, as Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer inched up the ladder through 13 successive ballots to upset frontrunner Maxime Bernier on the final ballot to secure the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), squeaking in by less than one percent of the vote. For Mr. Bernier and his staunch stance against supply management, the chickens had finally came home to roost.
Mr. Scheer may be a bit of a stranger to those who do not follow federal politics closely, but as the youngest MP to ever serve as the parliamentary house speaker he is hardly a stranger to those who do.
“It was certainly an interesting race,” noted former Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing CPC candidate Andre Robichaud. “With 14 candidates it went right down to the end.”
Mr. Robichaud said that he is confident in the new leader and his prospects going forward. “Andrew is going to do an excellent job,” he said. “He speaks with intelligence, his policies are sound and he is a personable guy. Not too many people know him yet, but I think he will grow on people.”
“Andrew Scheer represents a new chapter in the Conservative movement in Canada,” said Island Conservative Mark Volpini. “At 38-years-old, he is a young, genuine, dynamic and an ambitious leader. He strikes the right balance between values and experience. Mr. Scheer’s personality and leadership style will allow him to continue uniting the Conservative Party of Canada, much like interim leader Rona Ambrose did for 18 months.”
In his victory speech, the new leader promised to stay the course and to keep the party true to its roots and work for average Canadian families and not Ottawa insiders. He said Canada can’t afford four more years of Justin Trudeau and that the fight to return to power in 2019 starts now. “There is renewed hope for Canada, starting today,” said Mr. Scheer. “The pain and hardship the Trudeau Liberals are causing Canadians is just temporary.”
Mr. Robichaud was in full agreement with the new leader. “When I spoke to him early on he asked me what we need to do to win in 2019,” said Mr. Robichaud. “I told him we just need to do a better job on explaining to people on why keeping taxes low is good for Canadian families. We should not change ourselves into a new version of Liberals.”
Mr. Robichaud, who is the candidate director on the local riding association said that it was too early to say if he planned to carry the party’s banner in the next election. “It wouldn’t be fair to myself or the party,” he said. “We need the best person to ensure that we have a Conservative member in Ottawa. If that person is me, so be it.”
Mr. Scheer’s webpage thanks his supporters, but as befits the winner of a national party’s leadership contest, the policies and biographical information that propelled him to victory were no longer available. However, it is clear that while he is on the social conservative side of the party, Mr. Scheer intends to follow a moderate path in the days forward leading to the leadership and has eschewed the opening up of the debates on same sex marriage and abortion. He has championed scrapping the carbon tax and taking a tougher stance on crime.
Mr. Scheer and his wife Jill have five children: Thomas, Grace, Madeline, Henry and Mary.