Scheer didn't follow through on renouncing U.S. citizenship
OTTAWA -- Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer still holds his U.S. citizenship, after stating during the 2019 federal election campaign that he was in the process of renouncing it.
In an interview on CTV's Question Period with Evan Solomon, Scheer said that after deciding to step down as leader, he halted the process.
"Knowing that I won't be prime minister, I discontinued that process," Scheer said.
During the fall federal election campaign, Scheer confirmed that he had dual Canadian-U.S. citizenship after it was first reported by The Globe and Mail, saying he was in the process of renouncing his American citizenship.
When the story of his dual citizenship first broke in October, Scheer said he met with embassy representatives in August to renounce his citizenship and had submitted his paperwork to formalize it.
However, that paperwork was never formalized, and so Scheer continues to hold dual citizenship status. Asked why the change of heart, Scheer cited "personal reasons."
He could not say when exactly he stopped the process of dropping his American citizenship.
"I'd have to go back and check," he said.
In December, Scheer announced his intention to step down as leader, as soon as a replacement was picked. At the time he said it was "one of the most difficult decisions" he has ever made.
The controversy surrounding his citizenship amid the campaign was cited as one of the issues Scheer faced during his attempt to win over voters and defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal Party in the last federal election.
At the time, Scheer was questioned as to why it took him two years from when he took the helm of the federal Conservative party to begin the process of renouncing his U.S. citizenship, which he received from his father who was born there.
Scheer said the delay was because he was focused on rebuilding the party and preparing for the campaign, and said the reason he hadn't spoken about it was that: "No one's ever asked me before."
Scheer has filed taxes in the U.S., but has never voted in a U.S. election, his campaign said in the fall.
Scheer’s office later told CTVNews.ca that while he remains an American citizen, Scheer has not received the one-time direct aid payment the U.S. government sent to adult citizens amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Under federal elections law there aren't any rules prohibiting dual citizens from running to become an MP or campaigning to be the prime minister, though in the past the Conservatives and Scheer specifically have been critical of other leaders' citizenship status.
Back in 2005 Scheer sought input from his constituents, asking whether they were bothered by former Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean's French citizenship in a blog post about her appointment.
During the 2008 federal election campaign, Stephane Dion also faced questions from Conservatives about his French citizenship.
The race to replace him is underway with four candidates in the running. Party members have a deadline of August 21 to submit their mail-in ballot.
Once the new leader is named, Scheer said he intends to stay on as the MP for Regina-Qu'Appelle, Sask., and that he plans to run again in the next federal election.
"I hope to be able to earn their trust again in the next election. I love my riding in Saskatchewan, and I'm looking forward to spending more time there," he said.
With files from CTV News' Ben Cousins