Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 30, 2017
Andrew Scheer Elected Federal Conservative Leader
It’s hard to know who was more disappointed with the upset result in last weekend’s Conservative Party of Canada leadership vote: Maxime Bernier, the front-runner going into the weekend who stumbled at the finish line, or the Liberal government in Ottawa.
Bernier raised the most money of any candidate and seemed unstoppable going into the leadership convention last Saturday. He held the lead over the first 12 ballots.
However, once an overly complicated and elongated vote-counting process was completed, Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer triumphed on the baker’s dozen ballot. Bernier was gracious in defeat, but the crushing disappointment of the final result was plain to see.
That disappointment might have been matched by the mood in the Liberal party. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his team had to be crossing all their fingers and toes that Bernier would capture the Conservative helm.
Bernier’s Libertarian rhetoric, robustly embraced by some of the more absurd and dangerous elements on the far right of the political spectrum, made him the perfect foil for Trudeau and the Liberals.
Throughout the leadership campaign, Bernier offered Conservative party members an odd mix of free-market economics and awkward social and environmental policies. He was committed to slowing immigration and severely curtailing the flow of government-sponsored refugees. He also expressed alarming concerns about the accuracy of climate change science, urging scientists to stop “politicizing” environmental policy.
That is the kind of raw political material the Liberals could have exploited in the lead up to the 2019 federal election.
However, Bernier did not win. Instead, the Conservatives elected Scheer, a leader who will not be as easily assailed or typecast by the Grits.
Scheer is a modestly bilingual MP from Saskatchewan who is, remarkably, only 38 years old, seven years younger than Trudeau. After spending so much time in the 2015 election assailing Trudeau for being too young and “not ready” to govern, electing an even-younger leader must be some sort of political karma.
In terms of policy, Scheer is often referred to as Stephen Harper-lite — a fiscal conservative who would rather focus on balancing the budget, lowering taxes and reducing the overall footprint of government than on debating abortion or same-sex marriage. In fact, Scheer has said he will not revisit either of these, the two most compelling issues for social conservatives. (Source: Winnipeg Free Press)