Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 31, 2019
Scheer faces more criticism as Conservative caucus reminded of new rules that could trigger a leadership review
On a day when three prominent conservatives publicly criticized Andrew Scheer’s leadership, a note went out to the Conservative caucus reminding them of new parliamentary rules that could allow a leadership review to be held as early as next week.
Peter MacKay, one of the co-founders of the modern Conservative party, told a Washington audience Wednesday that in the face of Justin Trudeau’s stumbles, the Conservative leader’s failure to win the Oct. 21 election was “like having a breakaway on an open net” and missing the chance to put the puck in.
Appearing on a panel at the Wilson Centre’s Canada Institute, MacKay — who up to now has said he supports Scheer — nevertheless took his own shots at the Conservative leader and the campaign he ran.
“People didn’t want to talk about women’s reproductive rights, or revisiting same-sex marriage,” said MacKay, but it was “thrust onto the agenda” and “hung around Andrew Scheer’s neck like a stinking albatross, quite frankly, and he wasn’t able to deftly deal with those issues when the opportunities arose.”
MacKay said it “created a nervousness” among women who might have considered voting Conservative.
But MacKay, who left politics in 2015, may not be as big an immediate threat to Scheer as those sitting inside Scheer’s Conservative caucus.
Le Devoir has reported Quebec Conservative senators Jean-Guy Dagenais, and Josée Verner, a former Conservative cabinet minister who sits in the Senate as an independent, are publicly calling for Scheer to step aside. Dagenais told the paper that Scheer’s social conservative beliefs hurt the party in Quebec, and suggested it might be better for Scheer to bow out. Verner said it was time for the party to “change the recipe.”
As the political pressure continued to build Wednesday, the Conservative caucus was reminded of new parliamentary rules that could conceivably enable a vote on Scheer’s leadership as early as next week.
In an email sent to all MPs and obtained by the Star on Wednesday, Conservative MP Michael Chong reminded his parliamentary colleagues of the “legal obligations” of each caucus to vote at its first meeting on a number of questions of protocol, including what powers it has for ousting its leader. The first Conservative caucus meeting will be held Nov. 6 in Ottawa.
Chong spearheaded parliamentary reforms in 2015 that allow every caucus to, among other things, empower itself to oust the party leader. If Conservatives decide to do so, a leadership review could be triggered if 20 per cent of all Conservative MPs and senators call for it. In other words, should the caucus choose to adopt the new rules and then 30 members vote for a leadership review, a secret ballot vote would be held on whether Scheer can continue as leader. (Toronto Star)