View Full Version : Scheer's Next Challenge Is Unifying A Deeply Divided Conservative Party

06-13-2017, 12:27 PM
Scheer's Next Challenge Is Unifying A Deeply Divided Conservative Party


The Conservative Party elected Andrew Scheer as leader in a major upset win over popular libertarian conservative favourite Maxime Bernier during the party's leadership convention on May 27, 2017. However, as the newly sworn in Leader of Opposition took on his first face-to-face encounter with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in House of Commons last week, questions remain regarding the legitimacy of his victory and his more-than-subtle vision to unite the Conservative Party for 2019.

In September of last year, Scheer announced his bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party as the youngest candidate who was also largely favoured by the establishment. As the former Speaker of the House and Opposition House Leader, Scheer was the candidate with the most Conservative Party caucus endorsements during much of the race, until fellow candidate Erin O'Toole surpassed him in March of this year.

Scheer was positioned in a solid third place throughout the race according to various polls, before surging into second place after reality TV star Kevin O'Leary's sudden exit from the race in late April. Then, with a razor-thin margin of 50.95 per cent to 49.05 per cent of total vote points on the 13th round of ballot, he won against favourite Maxime Bernier on the leadership convention night in a ranked ballot system.

It was reported on various major news outlets later that Scheer's campaign also carried a "Andrew Scheer is my second choice" sub-campaign which may have had an effect in contributing to his overall winning results on the election night, scrapping in more second and third choice ballots than otherwise expected from moderate and non-mainstream social conservative voters.

Scheer's vision and rhetoric pose questions and doubts on whether he can truly unite the different factions within the party.

Understandably, enthusiasm over Scheer's win is not shared by everyone within the party. After all, Scheer only won by 1.9 per cent of total vote points over Bernier on the 13th round of ballot, and 53 per cent in popular vote with 23,225 votes discarded by 13th round, enough votes to have swayed the final result of the race between the top two contenders (if these ballots were counted). 16.4 per cent of total ballots were discarded by the 13th round because they either did not rank Scheer or Bernier on the ballot, or simply failed to rank any other choices after their preferred candidates were dropped from previous rounds. As well, Scheer only won on the 13th round of ballot, more or less emphasizing the lukewarm reality that he is "everybody's second choice."

In addition to his slim margin of victory, Scheer's vision and rhetoric pose questions and doubts on whether he can truly unite the different factions within the party. Starting from the first day as party leader, he has been popularly branded as "Stephen Harper with a smile and dimples," referring to the lighter touch of Stephen Harper era conservatism that he embodies, which has been welcomed with more than open arms by the party establishment, but is skeptical to the eyes of outsiders and non-incumbents of the party.

Will Scheer embrace those factions within the Conservative party that diverge from what he stood for during his campaign? More specifically, will he be able to win over the progressive and libertarian conservative wings of the party that have so rapidly expanded since the end of Harper years? Both vote counts and voter turnout have shown that these wings of the party have grown substantially, and disregarding them to simply satisfy what some call the "core conservative" base may mean a smaller and more divided Conservative Party for Scheer moving forward to 2019.

Other questions one may pose around Mr. Scheer is: does he offer any visionary change from the success and failures of the 2015 Conservative campaign? What is his new Conservative brand and what will it contain? In reality, the core Conservative brand may really need a rejuvenation to make it appeal to Canadians or be stuck with reminiscence of the Stephen Harper years -- the good and the bad. During the next two years, on top of brushing up his shaky French, if Scheer wants to be even remotely competitive against Liberal Justin Trudeau, he needs to show enough leadership initiative within the Conservative party, outline a bold forward-looking vision, re-engage the millennials that the party lost in 2015 and re-brand himself successfully in the minds of average Canadian voters.

Currently, the path to victory looks slim for Scheer as no majority government in Canada has ever lost a second-term mandate since the Great Depression. Furthermore, it seems like much work still need to be done on his polling numbers compared to the Liberal incumbent Justin Trudeau.

Concern over result legitimacy

What is undermining Scheer's legitimacy as the incoming party leader and hurting his chances to unify the Conservative Party are the rising allegations of vote process deficiencies during the voting process from various Conservative Party members, campaign staff and supporters. Allegations range from ballots not arriving on time, "human errors" in final ballot count allegations, to possible double voting, questions regarding whereabouts of spoiled and incomplete ballots, and controversial role of Deloitte throughout the entire electoral process.

In response, the Conservative Party maintained a line of defence and emphasized its decision to uphold the result of the vote, pointing to party rules where appeal or recount is not accepted.

The path to victory is going to be more than rough for Scheer.
Some within the party are alleging all those who are calling for attention on vote system re-examination are experiencing "sour grapes" and are destroying the unity of the party. However, it seems equally not helpful to cast a shadow over so many questions in a close leadership result like this one, especially if there are possible discrepancies in the final result. The truth is that, frankly speaking, the losing side consists of almost half of the Conservative Party membership base, shown through both vote counts and voter turnout, and they may need a more convincing answer or assurance to continue supporting the party in 2019.

If Leader Andrew Scheer wants to unify and bring forward a stronger Conservative Party to Canadians in 2019 like he has said he will do, he needs to address his legitimacy concerns properly, to both campaigns and supporters of the party, in order to restore conservative grassroots' faith in the party establishment. He also needs to find the challenging solution to unify the different factions within the party that have grew so sharply divided from one another, as a result of the year long fiercely fought leadership race with 13 ideologically differing candidates. The path to victory is going to be more than rough for Scheer.

Perhaps a good way to start the uneasy process of post-election reconciliation is to publicize the detailed voting results in a press conference as oppose to a private caucus-member-only meeting, and propose necessary changes to the party's leadership voting process, especially in regards to the highly problematic ballot mail-in process, to restore transparency in such a process for the future.

06-13-2017, 12:28 PM
a divided party,, since when?

06-13-2017, 12:39 PM
I didn't know the party was "deeply divided". Nice try HuffPo.

06-13-2017, 01:30 PM
Social Conservatives, Libertarians, and Fiscal Conservatives share vast common ground. Cut income tax, cut spending, decrease government social engineering. More than enough cooperation for two or three terms in office.

06-13-2017, 02:12 PM
Red Tory purge?

06-13-2017, 02:34 PM
Red Tory purge?

Absolutely. Only the ones that cant win for now though. We need all the torys we can get next election.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

06-13-2017, 03:10 PM
a divided party,, since when?

Since the Huffington Post, Toronto Star, CBC, CTV, and Global had their meeting and decided the CPC were deeply divided.

06-13-2017, 03:18 PM
"What is undermining Scheer's legitimacy as the incoming party leader and hurting his chances to unify the Conservative Party are the rising allegations of vote process deficiencies during the voting process from various Conservative Party members, campaign staff and supporters. Allegations range from ballots not arriving on time, "human errors" in final ballot count allegations, to possible double voting, questions regarding whereabouts of spoiled and incomplete ballots, and controversial role of Deloitte throughout the entire electoral process."

Well, that's pure BULLS--T.

The Party brass address the entire Conservative caucus late last week, MP's and Senators and gave explicit, detailed explainations of the alleged "irregularities" and answered every question put to them.

EVERYONE was satisfied at the session. The media know this and are ignoring it to push their chosen narrative of a divided CPC.

06-13-2017, 03:27 PM
Since the Huffington Post, Toronto Star, CBC, CTV, and Global had their meeting and decided the CPC were deeply divided.

guess they had to do something since their intended target didn't show up as expected

06-13-2017, 03:30 PM
Here's an article talking about the meeting party brass held with caucus. Only The Hill Times reported it.


06-13-2017, 04:03 PM
"He also needs to find the challenging solution to unify the different factions within the party that have grew so sharply divided from one another, as a result of the year long fiercely fought leadership race with 13 ideologically differing candidates. The path to victory is going to be more than rough for Scheer."


For the entire leadership campaign the media were constantly bemoaning what a boring race it was wher nothing exciting was happening.

Now it's over and suddenly it was a fiercely fought race that created deep divisions

06-13-2017, 04:13 PM
Fake news.

We're all in complete agreement that the Prime Moron is the worst thing to happen to Canada since the influenza pandemic of 1918.

And that's only because the plague didn't make it over here...

killer kane
06-13-2017, 06:09 PM
The left must be scared of him.

06-13-2017, 06:40 PM
The left must be scared of him.

There was an article a few days ago with quotes from the 30 year Sask Dipper MP Scheer beat in 2006.

He had a warning for people: Don't let the smile fool you and don't underestimate him. Andrew Scheer is the ultimate political animal.

Edit: Found it.


06-14-2017, 06:21 AM

Lorne Nystrom’s opponent didn’t look like much on paper. He was 25 years old. He wasn’t from the riding — he’d barely lived in the province two years — and his work experience amounted to little more than a gig busing tables and a few years in the office of a disgraced MP.

It was 2004 and Andrew Scheer was, politically speaking, a nobody. “He ran against me primarily because the local Conservatives couldn’t find anyone (else),” said Nystrom, an NDP legend who spent more than 30 years in Parliament. “He had just moved (to Regina) from Ottawa. … Nobody knew him.”

On the phone, 13 years down the line, Nystrom sounded both rueful and defiant about what happened next. He still blames vote splitting and a nasty campaign for his eventual upset. You get the sense, even now, he still can’t believe how he lost, or more importantly, whom he lost to. Late in the conversation he went silent and then laughed. “Nobody knew him at all.”

On May 27, Scheer, an unassuming MP from Regina, came from behind to capture an upset victory in the Conservative Party leadership race. He beat out the odds-on favourite Maxime Bernier, the older, more life-experienced consensus option in Erin O’Toole and a host other fringe and serious candidates, including former cabinet ministers Lisa Raitt and Michael Chong.

His victory propelled him into one of the most prominent political offices in the country: The Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition. But it was also, in the view of many, a bit of a booby prize. The long held assumption in Canadian political circles has been that whoever won the Tory leadership this year was in for a rough ride in 2019, when the country is next scheduled to go to the polls.

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That’s the reason, many assume, that party heavyweights like Peter MacKay, Jason Kenney and Rona Ambrose sat this race out. They’re biding their time for 2023, when the Liberal government will be eight years in and more vulnerable to a renewed Conservative attack.

But Scheer has experience as a political underdog. In fact, he’s rarely been in a contest he was expected win. And beneath his doughy, genial exterior, according to those who have worked with him, and in some cases lost to him, lies a calculating strategist with no fear of bare-knuckle politics.

“He’s not just the big cuddly smiling teddy bear by any stretch of the imagination,” said Nystrom.

While Scheer sells an image of wholesome Prairie populism, he is in fact a creature born and bred of the Ottawa machine. He has been active in right wing politics since his teens. He has worked steadily on Parliament Hill, with only one interlude, since he was 20. He has never entered a significant political contest as the favourite, and in 17 years, he’s only lost once: a no-hope bid for the Ottawa school board in 2000.

“The first thing you have to look at are results,” said Andrew MacDougall, a writer and political strategist who worked in the Prime Minister’s Office under Stephen Harper. Scheer wins. He beat Nystrom in 2004 and again in 2006. He became Speaker of the House of Commons in 2011, when he was only 32. And of course, he won the party leadership in May.

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“I think Andrew has been underestimated several times by different people over the years,” said Barry Devolin, a former Conservative MP who fought Scheer for the Speaker’s throne in 2011. “He looks young, right. He has kind of a baby face and he jokes himself that he’s always smiling, and I think a lot of people mistakenly think that someone who looks young and happy can’t be kind of deep and strategic.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Scheer is a shoe-in to win the next election. His party has trailed Trudeau’s Liberals consistently by between 10 and 14 per cent since the last contest, according to pollster Nik Nanos. He also remains a bit of a blank slate for most voters outside the Ottawa bubble, according to polling conducted by Mainstream Research, and will face an uphill battle to define himself before the Liberals do it for him.

But it does suggest that he shouldn’t be expected to roll over. He has spent his political life taking on and winning contests that most expected him to lose. “Elections need to be fought, they need to be won,” said MacDougall.

Since the leadership vote, Scheer has moved to consolidate his team, stitching together the wounds from a long campaign even as some in the party have continued to question the legitimacy of his win.

Scheer inherits a party that seemed, at several points during the campaign, to be on the brink of schizophrenic collapse. Polls suggested for much of the race that Kevin O’Leary — a part-time candidate and part-time Canadian resident with no political experience — was poised to win in a landslide. O’Leary quit, according to his own campaign team, when he realized what would happen if he actually won.

Compared to O’Leary, or even Bernier, Scheer represents a radical shift back to the status quo for the Conservatives. One longtime party insider mused during the race that the party would unify behind anyone who won — other than O’Leary or Kellie Leitch. And despite the grumblings of some Bernier partisans that certainly seems to be the case so far.

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The long race, however, exposed new fault lines in the Canadian right — ones Scheer will be forced to grapple with in the coming years. Leitch, who tried to embrace a kind of Trump-light nationalism in her campaign, attracted enormous attention but failed miserably in the end. She finished seventh place on the first ballot. Still, her failure should not be taken as a sign that the popular nationalist message she preached has no audience among the Conservative base. She was just such an inauthentic messenger; it’s impossible to know how someone more credible would have done with a similar strategy.

For Scheer the challenge will be in understanding that base, keeping the new nationalists under the big Conservative tent, without letting the Liberals use them to define the party as a whole. As the remarkable fight over the innocuous anti-Islamophobia motion, M103, showed, that may be a difficult task.

For now, Scheer seems focused on making sure everyone gets along. “I think that he’s made the point that he’s looking for places of agreement rather than places of disagreement with our party,” said Georganne Burke, a Conservative strategist who volunteered on the Scheer campaign. “He’s trying to build that internal strength … that will give us the unity we need going forward.”

He has also taken a markedly different stance with the press than did Harper, his notoriously flinty predecessor. “He is definitely not afraid to talk to the media,” said Burke (although his handlers did not make him available for this story.) “The very fact that I’m speaking to you” demonstrates that, she said.

Last Saturday, Scheer spoke at Ottawa’s annual Press Gallery dinner. He looked awkward on stage. In one extended riff, he poked fun at his own genial reputation, joking about his “resting pleasant face” and constant grin. But Nystrom, for one, thinks that’s all a bit of mask. There’s more to Scheer than a bumbling family man with a pleasant visage. “Beneath that smile,” he said, “lies a pretty nasty and mean streak.”

Scheer, like many political animals, came to the game early. He grew up in Ottawa, the son of a Catholic deacon who spent more than 30 years working for the Ottawa Citizen newspaper. In earlier interviews Scheer has spoken about reading that paper cover to cover as a nine-year-old delivery boy, fascinated by the coverage of political campaigns.

In high school, Scheer started volunteering for the Reform Party. “I always thought, ‘If so much of my life is subject to regulation or government, I should at least be engaged,'” he told the Citizen in 2006. “My dad always used to say, ‘If you don’t like it, you should try to change it.’ ” He joined the campus wing of the Canadian Alliance at the University of Ottawa and eventually parlayed an internship on Parliament Hill into a part-time job in the Leader of the Opposition’s office.

In 2002, Scheer left Ottawa to be with his then-girlfriend in Regina. He remained active in right wing politics, married the girlfriend— his wife Jill — and in 2004 put his name forward for the Conservative Party in Regina-Qu’Appelle, a riding that bridged the city with parts of the surrounding countryside.

He was, to the say the least, a rank outsider. Nystrom was first elected in 1968. He had run for the NDP leadership three separate times and was considered an institution in Saskatchewan politics.

Nystrom today considers that race unusually dirty. Near the end of the campaign, Scheer accused him of being soft on child pornography, a charge so serious Nystrom considered suing Scheer for libel. “There’s a nastier streak there than you’d find in most candidates,” he said. “I don’t mean on the issues. (There) becomes, with him, a personal tinge to it.”

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Scheer also benefited in that race from a strong Liberal candidate who helped split the centre-left vote. In the end, he squeaked past Nystrom by fewer than 1,000 ballots. Two years later, he won again, beating Nystrom by a more comfortable margin to join Harper’s first minority government. He has held the seat ever since.

In his early days on the Hill, Scheer earned a reputation as a self-admitted hyperpartisan. As he aged, he mellowed, and built alliances across the floor, something that would prove crucial for his next major move. In 2006, Scheer became one of three deputies under long-time Liberal Speaker Peter Milliken, a post he held for the next five years. When Milliken retired in 2011, Scheer went for the top job.

Devolin was one of several candidates with far more political experience to oppose Scheer in that race. Like the rest, he lost.

The Speaker of the House is elected by sitting members of parliament in a series of secret ballots. The winner traditionally comes from the ruling party, but to get the job, candidates often need support from both sides of the aisle.

“I don’t think I appreciated how thoroughly Andrew had mapped it out in his head ahead of time,” said Devolin, who now teaches political science in South Korea. “Looking back, it was clearer to me that he had clearly figured out how the system worked.”

Devolin believes Scheer used those same skills to capture the leadership. “It did not surprise me that he had a well thought out strategy, and the strategy (was) simple: get enough votes on the first ballot to be in the top two or three and then be everyone’s second choice,” he said.

Indeed, in a race dominated by controversial gambits and candidates, Scheer stayed under the radar. He accumulated allies without pissing anybody off and in the end did just enough to beat Bernier on the final ballot.

“Andrew actually understood what it meant to be a candidate,” said Burke, who joined the Scheer campaign after leaving Bernier’s team last year. “He didn’t try to second guess the decisions of the people he hired to run the campaign.”

Scheer won Burke over with a personal appeal during a long face-to-face meeting last spring. “I expected to have a 15-minute chat with him,” she said. “It ended up being …probably an hour and 15 minutes.”

She left that meeting struck by his talents as a listener, something she says she saw over and over again on the campaign. “He would personally go out to church basements, small events in ridings, big events in riding, wherever he needed to be to talk to people personally,” she said. “And he could win them over.”

The question for Scheer now is whether he can translate those skills, for brokerage and one-on-one campaigning, into a national race against a man who is, for better or worse, a global celebrity. Nanos, for one, doesn’t think it’s an impossible task. “He represents a stark contrast to Justin Trudeau not just in terms of policy but in terms of tone and style,” Nanos said.

What’s more, the Liberal lead was built against two parties that haven’t had permanent leaders in more than a year. A resurgent NDP and a steady hand from Scheer could be enough to upend everyone’s expectations, Nanos believes. “I think that there’s a significant chance that the Liberals could get squeezed in the next election,” he said.

For MacDougall several things would have to go right for Scheer to pull off another upset. He needs to strike the right tone — positive but confrontational. He needs the right policy environment, and he needs Trudeau to stumble.

“I think he’s smart enough to do it,” MacDougall said. “So let’s see.”

killer kane
06-14-2017, 08:56 AM
Add to that the press blindly kowtowing to blinky the wonder lieb, Canada's worsening financial situation, Sheer could sneak up the middle relatively unscathed by msm attacks and dust the scum liebs next election.

Butters Stotch
06-15-2017, 01:43 PM
The 2019 election hinges on the NDP leadership race, if Nikki Ashton wins she will have no trouble stealing votes from the Liberals and they will have no hope of another majority.