Conservative Deputy leader Leona Alleslev as Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speak with the media in the Foyer of the House of Commons in West Block, Thursday November 28, 2019 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Scheer heads to Conservative heartland after a bruising week of challenges

Earlier in the week, Andrew Scheer had been blasted by party supporters in Montreal

Andrew Scheer heads into the Conservative heartland of Alberta today where he’ll make a pitch to some of the party’s most fervent supporters about why he ought to keep his job as federal leader and how he intends to do it.

His speech to the United Conservative Party convention in Calgary comes at the end of a bruising week of challenges to his leadership from across the conservative spectrum, and what he himself described as frank conversations about why he failed to win a majority in last month’s election.

The latest of those took place at an Ottawa convention centre Thursday night, where he heard from a range of failed candidates and volunteers in two hours of meetings.

“All our conversations have been very, very open and frank, and respectful,” he said.

“We are all focused on learning from what happened in the campaign and to finish the job.”

Earlier in the week, Scheer had been blasted by party supporters in Montreal, including outright calls for his resignation.

In Ottawa, the mood was far calmer and there were more overt signs of support.

READ MORE: Scheer appoints floor-crossing Liberal as deputy leader of Conservative party

Lucia Fevrier-President, who voted for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals in 2015 but switched to the Tories for the 2019 election, acknowledged that there are some in the party who think Scheer should go, but not her.

“He can stay on as leader,” she said. “The individuals I speak to, none of them want him to leave at this point. This is a minority government, we need to be able to focus on doing the work right now (rather) than what’s happening out there.”

Carol Clemenhagen, who ran for the Conservatives in the riding of Ottawa Centre, home to Liberal cabinet minister Catherine McKenna, said she was still processing her loss in what’s admittedly a tough riding.

She attributed the party’s failure broadly to Scheer’s inability to clearly articulate a distinction between his personal positions on issues such as abortion and LGBTQ rights and that of the party.

“The Conservative party at heart is a centrist party, and that’s what voters want to see in a national party,” she said.

“I believe and I hope that’s the direction he will follow should he stay on as leader.”

Another Ottawa candidate, Justina McCaffrey, called Scheer a nice guy, but one who failed to present a compelling enough persona to voters and was surrounded by a bad team. She said she still supports him but wants change, and she’s not sure he’s capable of it.

Mike Duggan, who ran in the riding of Hull-Aylmer, just over the Ottawa River in Quebec, said in his view Scheer deserves to stay.

“He’s an intelligent person, he’s got good values,” Duggan said.

Scheer had sought Thursday to move forward from the question of his leadership with the appointment of Leona Alleslev as deputy Conservative leader. She was elected as a Liberal in 2015 but crossed the floor to the Conservatives in 2018 and was re-elected in her suburban Toronto riding as a Tory in October. He called her role a signal to those disillusioned with the Liberals there’s a home for them with him.

Next will come the announcement of the other members of his front benches, the critics who will be charged with pressing the government on its agenda beginning with the return of Parliament on Dec. 5.

What shape that Opposition will take is to be outlined in a speech later tonight at the UCP convention in Alberta, a province where the federal Tories swept every seat save one in the October vote.

But while their vote totals in Alberta hit record highs, it’s also the home of some of the most abject frustration that Scheer failed to win a majority when faced with what many believed should have been an easy win.

The speech will be his first major appearance before supporters since election night.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2019.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Community Kitchen blessed by Laichwiltach First Nation

Hama?Elas Community Kitchen will provide safe place to eat for Campbell River’s vulnerable

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

North Island mayors say their voices should be heard by DFO before final decisions are made about fish farms. (Black Press file photo)
Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

DFO evaluating 18 Discovery Island fish farms and transitioning from open-net farms

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read