Don Martin: Slow and steady Scheer starting to win the race
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer speaks to reporters following a caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Published Thursday, May 24, 2018 5:52PM EDT
It didn't seem a fair fight at first, a boy-faced Saskatchewan career politician who is the son of a librarian up against the rainbow knight astride his silver unicorn and shielded by a prime ministerial family pedigree.
But after a year of Andrew Scheer, the rookie Conservative leader has not been jousted into the realm of ridicule by a star-powered prime minister trying to remake the world in his progressive image.
If anything, the ridiculing has gone into reverse thrust with Justin Trudeau on the losing end of most clashes against his official parliamentary nemesis.
What's worse for all those senior Liberals who smirked a giddy gloat at Andrew Scheer's victory one year ago this weekend, they're hearing the sound of Conservative footsteps right beside them in most polling.
Mind you, Scheer could still walk around Parliament Hill wearing a sandwich board fundraising for the Conservative party without being recognized as the Official Opposition Leader by the tourist throngs.
But with the 500-day countdown to election 2019 about to begin, the 39-year-old Scheer has beaten most expectations by proving himself surprising effective in the leadership.
He's managed to neutralize the bitterness of defeated rivals, including the gagging of Maxime Bernier and cancellation of his tell-all book.
He either got lucky or quietly stage-managed it, but Scheer has shaken two problem MPs: Brad Trost and Kellie Leitch off the Conservative ballot for 2019.
And when he's been handed gold by way of Liberal controversy, Scheer hasn't squandered it.
Be it Finance Minister Bill Morneau's ethical lapses or incendiary business tax reforms to carbon pricing cover-ups or the Trudeau debacle in Delhi, Scheer and his impressive front line of senior critics have brought a hail of deadly derision down upon the government side of the House.
If there's a criticism from within, it's that he listens to the strident hard-right voices in his ranks, including regularly connecting with former prime minister Stephen Harper, and is slightly deaf to the moderates. Yet his social conservative roots have yet to show themselves in public.
To even contemplate a Conservative comeback over the global rapture-receiving Trudeau a year ago was the Scheer audacity of hope over the reality of nope.
But with the Liberals self-inflicting themselves with scandal, mired in pipeline politics and tangled up in Trump trade trouble, the Trudeau rainbow has faded to grey and his unicorn is limping. Incredibly, that has given way to a librarian's son starting to shine politically and riding high in the polls.
And that's the Last Word.