Don Martin: Scheer audacity to expect a win without change
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 5:52PM EST
Conservative MPs didn't actually refuse to knife their leader’s back this week. They just opted to let party members do it in the spring.
It's the smart play to divert the blood flow to the convention floor.
An excited new caucus is no place to remove or even review a leader who just delivered 23 more seats and knocked the Liberals off their majority pedestal.
But it doesn’t change the upcoming convention calculus, which puts Andrew Scheer’s continued leadership in extreme jeopardy.
Conventional wisdom has it he'll need the support of 75 per cent of delegates to survive the review.
Now my mother would've danced a jig if that mark appeared anywhere on my high school report card, but that barely makes the grade in leadership politics.
Without a three-quarters thumbs-up, Andrew Scheer will be forced to step down.
Achieving that daunting level of support will be a challenge on many levels.
For starters, there's the Peter MacKay problem.
The former cabinet minister has gone quiet for the time being, but he'll be flexing his influential muscles in Atlantic Canada to ensure the region sends delegates who oppose Scheer or, more precisely, support him.
On another front, Quebec Conservatives are severely miffed at Scheer's debate debacle, which morphed seats from winnable to impossible. They want a francophone in charge.
Then consider where the convention is being held: right smack in the middle of Ford Nation in Toronto.
The Ontario premier and his supporters are understandably disinclined to help Scheer after he barge-poled them away from the campaign like, to borrow a MacKay line, a smelly albatross. They may well be motivated to work against him.
And there's the God Squad. Social conservatives handed Scheer the crown in 2017 and there are signals they'll opt to take it away.
They likely believed there was a quid pro quo understanding that Scheer would be more open to limiting abortion access in exchange for their crucial last-ballot support.
But despite the daunting obstacles, there’s precious little sign Scheer sees his dead-leader-walking appearance in the mirror.
There was no sign of improved communication skills after several hours of griping by MPs behind closed doors, his staff chart is unchanged and there remains uncomfortable wiggle room in his gay rights and abortion responses.
If the Conservative leader believes he need not change to captivate the convention floor, well, there’s only one way to view that: Scheer audacity.
That's the Last Word.