OTTAWA — Conservative leader Andrew Scheer unveiled on Wednesday the list of those will sit on the Opposition front benches when the House of Commons returns next month.
Scheer wasn’t just drawing from a list of the other 96 Conservative MPs to decide who to put in his shadow cabinet; he was also navigating the aftermath of a leadership race he won only by a slim margin and ensuring his main competitors — and their supporters — felt they had a place and a voice at the table.
“Our shadow ministers are united, energized, and diverse,” said Scheer in a statement about his new team.
Scheer’s main competitor, Maxime Bernier, will keep tabs on the Liberals’ marquee innovation agenda, while third-place finisher Erin O’Toole nabs the Foreign Affairs portfolio. Scheer had already given the deputy leader position to Lisa Raitt.
Before launching her leadership bid, she’d served in the high-profile finance critic position. Longtime Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre will now occupy that post.
The other contenders in the inner circle? Steven Blaney becomes Veterans Affairs critic after once being the minister for that position, Tony Clement will watch over public services and procurement matters and Michael Chong will take on oversight of the Liberals’ infrastructure plans.
Under interim party leader Rona Ambrose, Chong had been deputy environment critic, despite his long-standing support for a carbon tax, a policy that’s heresy in most Conservative circles.
Her point man for the environment job was former cabinet minister Ed Fast and he’ll stay there under Scheer. James Bezan, from Manitoba, will continue as defence critic and Michelle Rempel remains in the key immigration post.
Scheer’s also keeping former Conservative MP Rob Moore as the critic for Atlantic issues; the party doesn’t have a single elected MP from the Atlantic provinces and Ambrose hired Moore to keep tabs on that region.
Three of the sitting MPs who challenged Scheer for the leadership, Deepak Obhrai, Kellie Leitch and Brad Trost, were left off the critics list.
Next week, the Conservatives are to meet in Winnipeg to plot strategy for the return of the House of Commons on Sept. 18.
Hammering on Trudeau’s economic record will be a key theme for the Tories, along with issues that arose over the summer, including the payment to Omar Khadr and the situation on the border will also be front and centre.