Election defeat leaves some Conservatives questioning Scheer's leadership
OTTAWA -- After the Conservative Party failed to win enough seats in the federal election to form government, some party members are questioning whether their leader Andrew Scheer should remain at the helm.
In a phone interview with CTV News, former Conservative MP Terence Young, who represented the party in the Oakville, Ont. riding from 2008 to 2015, but has lost in the past two federal elections, said the party should re-evaluate Scheer’s leadership in part due to how poorly it fared in the Greater Toronto Area.
"He's already proven that he can't get any votes in the GTA,” Young said. "What's going to change in the next election?"
The Conservatives lost all but four of the seats in the GTA in this election, a slight improvement after losing all but two seats in the region back in 2015.
Young isn’t the only Conservative frustrated with Scheer’s leadership. Sara MacIntyre, Stephen Harper’s former press secretary, tweeted on Saturday that Scheer’s stance on LGBTQ issues remains a sticking point for her.
“I am pissed off that the leader of my party WILL NOT walk in a pride parade,” she tweeted. “I am sick of this, disgusted and ashamed. I believe and support in LGBTQ rights, gay marriage and being equal. I no longer support the CPC while a leader like that is at the helm.”
Scheer has a wide range of socially conservative views. He has said that he is personally against abortion, has ruled out marching in a Pride parade in a recent interview and in 2005 gave a now-infamous speech against same-sex marriage.
In an interview with The Canadian Press last week, Scheer said he believes a prime minister can have socially conservative views, while still recognizing that these viewpoints would not be enforced on Canadians.
"I believe that Canadians understand that any number of people can have a different point of view on these issues. What's important to them is to know whether a prime minister will make changes or seek to make changes," he said at the time.
"And my assurances to Canadians was that as prime minister, these types of debates would not be re-opened."
Bob Plamondon, who has written extensively about the Conservative Party, said regardless of Scheer’s promises not to re-open these debates, his stance on social issues hurt his party’s ability to grow its base.
“There are a number of Conservatives MPs who are coming to Ottawa this week to pack their bags," he said. "They lost in large part because, I think, the leader was out of touch with the mainstream Canadian public opinion,"
Other insiders have said they believe Scheer struggled to connect with voters while on the campaign trail and was hurt by a lack of experience within his inner circle.
However, the Conservatives under Scheer did gain 26 seats in the election and won the popular vote by nearly 250,000 votes, leaving some Conservative strategists to urgeparty members against making a rash decision on his leadership.
“There's obviously a lot of people who are disappointed with the result, but we also won the popular vote nationally, so let's not throw everything out, as a result of overreacting,” said Jamie Ellerton, the founder of public relations agency Conaptus and political communicator.
While Scheer has vowed to remain leader for the foreseeable future, a leadership review is expected at the Conservative convention from April 16 to 18 in Toronto.