Senior Conservatives in Ottawa for planning session, post-election dissection of campaign
OTTAWA – A small team of top Tories are gathering in Ottawa over the next two days for what a source in Leader Andrew Scheer’s office says is a planning meeting for the upcoming session, but what others expect will also include some form of an election post-mortem on the Conservative campaign.
CTV News has confirmed that a handful of the most senior members of the Conservative Party are in town to give Scheer their lay of the land after losing the 2019 federal election and offer their perspective on what worked, what went wrong, and what to read in to the chatter about his future as leader. They will also be discussing the plan as Official Opposition in a relatively stable minority Liberal government, and talking about the upcoming caucus meeting.
Among the participants in these talks are freshly-defeated Ontario MP and deputy leader of the party Lisa Raitt; the party’s Quebec lieutenant MP Alain Rayes; B.C. MP Mark Strahl who was the party whip in the last Parliament; Manitoba MP and opposition House leader Candice Bergen; and Alberta MP and deputy House leader Chris Warkentin.
In an interview on CTV’s Power Play after the first day of discussions Raitt described it as a “normal” pre-sitting meeting to plot the way forward for the caucus and all the new elements that come with the start of a new Parliament.
“They were asking me what was going on in Ontario, and I gave them the best answer I could, which was simply put we just didn’t get enough votes, and that it’s up to us to figure out what happened in Ontario. You can’t decide that overnight, it’s going to take some introspection, and it’s going to take reaching out to the other members of caucus, too,” Raitt said.
After the party’s disappointing election outcome, voices from inside the party have begun to question whether Scheer should stay on as leader going in to the next election, which in the current minority situation could be earlier than four years from now.
While the party did win the popular vote and is sending more MPs to Ottawa than they had in the last Parliament, the Conservatives needed to make seat gains in both Quebec and Ontario in order to pick up enough seats to oust the Liberals, but that didn’t happen. Points of contention that party members have raised include Scheer’s personal, socially-conservative positon on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.
Raitt said that the Conservatives need to discuss how to approach questions about the leader’s stance on these issues in a way that clearly communicates that the party definitively would not reopen either debate.
While Scheer has vowed to remain leader for the foreseeable future, a leadership review will be triggered as a result of the election loss. This will take place at the Conservative convention happening April 16 to 18 in Toronto.
With files from host of CTV's Power Play Don Martin