Scheer warns Liberals his Tories are watching as Parliament prepares to return

Scheer warns Liberals his Tories are watching as Parliament prepares to return

OTTAWA — Opposition Conservatives are looking ahead to the return of Parliament Thursday as an opportunity to change the channel after weeks of very public party in-fighting around the future of leader Andrew Scheer.

In a public speech to Conservative MPs and senators Wednesday, Scheer covered much of the same ground he’s trod on for weeks following the October election: that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is responsible for dividing the country, weakening Canada’s reputation on the world stage and setting up dangerous conditions in the event of an economic downturn.

But, Scheer promised, something new will come with the resumption of the House of Commons: an emboldened Opposition that won’t let do him whatever he wants.

“In this minority Parliament, we are putting him on notice,” Scheer said.

“We are not going to let them get away with anything.”

Scheer accused Trudeau of dragging his feet on bringing back Parliament, saying he was doing it in part because he feared the force of his opponents.

While the Conservatives may be styled “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition,” Canadians should understand where their loyalty lies, Scheer said.

“Our loyalty is not to the government, our loyalty is to the Canadian people,” he said.

“And when the prime minister puts his agenda ahead of the good of all Canadians he will indeed find himself opposed.”

However Scheer himself is facing questions of loyalty and opposition from within his own ranks.

The failure of the Conservatives to capture a majority during the election has frustrated many within the party, who felt forming government ought to have been within their sights given the myriad scandals plaguing the Liberals.

Organized campaigns to unseat Scheer at April’s party convention, or force him to retire ahead of that, have been launched and both prominent Conservatives and grassroots members have spoken out against the need for Scheer to change or go.

In recent weeks, he’s been on a “listening tour” of campaign managers, failed candidates and volunteers, where common themes have emerged: the party failed to put forward and communicate a convincing climate plan, and that Scheer’s socially conservative views were a liability.

Michelle Rempel, a Calgary MP, who has been outspoken about the rights of LGBT Canadians, said the party has to stand up for those issues more forcefully.

“I hope to work with our leader to find ways we can advocate for the community,” she said.

Scheer has made some early changes, firing two members of his inner circle. He also appointed a former Liberal as his party’s deputy leader last week.

Toronto MP Leona Alleslev crossed the floor to the Tories last year, and Scheer said she serves as example — and ambassador to — the people the party needs: suburban voters around big cities like Toronto who used to support Liberals.

Still, one of the most senior members of his caucus — former Conservative cabinet minister Ed Fast — also refused a spot on the Opposition front benches, saying Scheer deserved to be surrounded by those who fully supported him. Fast was Scheer’s environment critic prior to the election.

Fast stopped short of discussing his own measure of support for Scheer, a position taken by many MPs who say the decision rests in the hands of the party’s membership come April.

“Mr. Scheer got a mandate from supporters, volunteers, the members of our party,” said Quebec MP Gerard Deltell on Wednesday.

“It is the members of the party that will decide what will happen.”

B.C. MP Mark Strahl, who is counted among those in Scheer’s inner circle, told reporters Scheer can and will hang on.

“We need to get back to doing the job that we were elected to do, which is to present a viable alternative,” he said.

“The more that we can focus on that, the stronger our party will be.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2019.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Parliament

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

Just Posted

Pope Francis, third from left, watches Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI entering St. Peter’s Basilica accompanied by Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, at the Vatican, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Vatican clears retired US bishop of multiple abuse claims

Retired Wyoming Bishop Joseph Hart exonerated

A dealer slides chips across a blackjack table on Friday, March 16, 2012, in Bangor, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Robert F. Bukaty
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after travel to Yukon: media reports

Couple intercepted at the Whitehorse airport trying to leave Yukon

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

'The Coronavirus Isn't Scary' by Kristy Walker.
Sylvan Lake author pens first children’s book about COVID-19

“The Coronavirus Isn’t Scary” by Kristy Walker teaches children to take care of themselves

FILE - In this March 10, 2011, file photo, then-Vice President Joe Biden, left, shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia. President Joe Biden has been thrown into a high-wire act with Russia as he seeks to toughen his administration’s stance against Putin while preserving room for diplomacy in a post-Donald Trump era. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
Arms deal, hacking complicate Joe Biden’s approach to Russia

Biden wants to manage differences with Russia

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk on the Odaiba waterfront as Olympic rings is seen in the background in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Tokyo Olympic Q&A: Officials try to explain how games happen

‘Playbooks’ to provide step-by-step details on how athletes and others will get safely in and out of Tokyo

Canadian clothing line Rubies specializes in form-fitting clothing for trans and non-binary girls. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto father-daughter duo design swimsuit tailored to transgender children

A Canadian clothing line is helping transgender kids feel confident at the… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs alumni George Armstrong, right, and son of Maple Leafs alumni Syl Apps, Syl Apps Jr., shake hands during a pre-game ceremony before the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets NHL game in Toronto on February 21, 2015. George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the '60s and wore the blue and white his entire career, has died. He was 90. The Maple Leafs confirmed the death Sunday on Twitter. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Former Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong dies

Former Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong dies

Green Bay Packers' Adrian Amos pauses after losing the NFC championship NFL football game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Aaron Rodgers’ ‘uncertain’ future hangs over Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers’ ‘uncertain’ future hangs over Green Bay

Most Read