Conservative candidates should get to see campaign post-mortem findings, not just Scheer: Raitt
OTTAWA -- The co-chair of the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership campaign thinks that all of the party’s 2019 candidates should be able to see the findings of former Tory cabinet minister John Baird’s external review of the campaign.
CTV News political analyst Lisa Raitt said that she thinks the findings of the internal report—which the Conservatives say they have no intention of making public or sharing beyond outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his successor—should be made available to every candidate who ran for the party in the last federal election.
“Failed candidates took part and were interviewed. The results should be shared with them,” Raitt, who was an unsuccessful 2019 election candidate and former deputy leader of the party, said in an email noting that it wouldn’t necessarily mean disclosing the entire report.
And, responding to Raitt’s comments, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner agreed that “this needs to happen.”
“There are clear structural deficiencies that have been identified in this report which need to have a plan developed to rectify,” she said in a series of tweets, questioning how the party could evaluate the plan going forward if they can’t see what the identified issues are.
Baird’s report is based on feedback he gathered through meetings with riding-level staff, volunteers, and those who worked in the party’s campaign war room.
“I need to be able to go to my constituents, my donors, my members, my stakeholders and my staff and tell them what we feel went wrong and how we're going to fix it. I also need to know that the hours I spent giving feedback means something,” Rempel Garner said.
The findings have landed in Scheer’s hands one day after the formal leadership race process opened up, and comes as prominent party members are beginning to throw their hats into the ring to replace him.
Rempel Garner said that she thinks the leadership contestants need to be able to say what their plan would be for fixing the issues identified and the membership able to evaluate whether their plans would be sufficient.
Report: discomfort with same-sex marriage ‘an electoral liability’
At least one of the takeaways from the postmortem on the Conservative party’s federal election campaign was that Scheer’s unsuccessful bid to be prime minister indicates that a political leader who appears uncomfortable with same-sex marriage is “an electoral liability no party can afford.”
That is according to a single line from Baird’s report provided to CTV News by a source on the party’s national council.
“One positive result of the otherwise dispiriting federal election is that it confirmed large majority support for LGBTQ rights. A political leader who considers gay families less worthy of respect or is visibly uncomfortable with marriage equality is now an electoral liability no party can afford,” reads the portion of the report.
Scheer was asked repeatedly during the campaign to clarify his current personal views and political position on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights more broadly in the lead-up to, and throughout the 40-day federal election campaign.
These questions were prompted after the Liberals resurfaced a 2005 video of then-backbench MP Scheer speaking against marriage equality. In the House of Commons speech, Scheer said that “homosexual unions are by nature contradictory” to the inherent qualities of marriage and compared the idea of granting same-sex couples the legal right to marry with calling a dog’s tail a leg.
Scheer — who has not participated in Pride parades — sought to defend his views, saying that his stance had evolved, he considers the matter settled, would find other ways to support the community, and he would not reopen the issue of same-sex marriage if he was prime minister.
After the campaign concluded several prominent Conservative voices spoke out about Scheer’s position and messaging on the matter, saying his stance could ultimately cost him his job.
Facing continued criticism on this aspect of the race and others, as well as questions about his ability to defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Dec. 12 Scheer announced he’d be resigning as leader as soon as his replacement is named.
Report lands as race heats up
It’s expected that each candidate will be questioned on their positons on social issues including same-sex marriage and abortion in the course of the party’s months-long leadership election process.
So far, CTV News has confirmed Conservative MPs Pierre Poilievre and Erin O’Toole both plan to enter the race, and Conservative MP Marilyn Gladu has already announced her plan to run. Former NDP leader and CTV News political analyst Tom Mulcair has said former Quebec premier Jean Charest is also considering a bid.
On Wednesday, Peter MacKay, who was federal Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leader pre-merger, said he’s “in.” After the election he said that social issues hung around Scheer’s neck like a “stinking albatross.”
The victor is scheduled to be declared in Toronto on June 27, at a convention that coincides with the city’s Pride festivities. The Conservative party has said the timing wasn’t a factor in the decision-making process around when the vote would be held.
With files from CTV News’ Michel Boyer and Sarah Turnbull