Scheer maintains core parliamentary team, names new deputy leader
OTTAWA -- With a week to go before the 43rd Parliament kicks off, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has announced his House leadership team and has named a new deputy leader.
This top roster of MPs remains largely the same as it was in the last Parliament and will be Scheer’s core group of colleagues focused on delivering his promise of being a government-in-waiting in the Liberal-led minority House of Commons.
Scheer has named Leona Alleslev as his new deputy leader, a role previously held by Lisa Raitt. Naming Alleslev maintains the consistency that the role is held by a woman and MP from the GTA, however she’s only been a member of the party since Sept. 2018, when she crossed the floor from the Liberals.
With Scheer’s leadership under fire and being questioned by both the progressive and social conservative wings of the party, it’s yet to be seen what role Alleslev will play in acting as Scheer’s No. 2, though it will include filling in for Scheer when he is travelling.
Alleslev was the only member standing next to Scheer when he announced his parliamentary inner circle, noting that she “came to our side in the last Parliament because she believed in my vision, and the Conservative vision for Canada.”
Facing questions about why Scheer selected an MP who has been a member of the party for a little over a year, rather than other longtime Conservative caucus members, Scheer said it’s about “moving forward.”
“Leona embodies exactly the type of person that we are trying to reach out to, to show that if you have voted Liberal in the past, if you are disappointed with the government that Justin Trudeau has been providing Canadians, there is a place for you in the Conservative Party of Canada,” Scheer said.
Already criticisms have emerged from Harper-era staffers, making public their skepticism about Scheer’s choice for this top role on social media and in interviews.
“I think what we’re seeing today, including the selection of the deputy leader, is a lack of judgment, poor judgement,” Kory Teneycke, Stephen Harper’s former director of communications, told CTV News.
In an interview on CTV’s Power Play Alleslev said despite her initial concerns, she’s been received with “open arms” by her caucus-mates. “Many of them even said to me that they knew I was a Conservative even before I knew I was a Conservative,” she said.
Alleslev said she was “disappointed” in the contrarian voices coming out to call for Scheer to resign, saying that the party should be focused on the coming session, and wait for all reviews and internal reports on the campaign to be done before deciding on the party’s future.
“I support the leader, there’s no question,” she said.
Alain Rayes is staying on as Scheer’s Quebec political lieutenant and he is also keeping on his two lead MPs in the roles they held in the last Parliament: Candice Bergen as Official Opposition House leader and Mark Strahl as chief opposition whip.
Scheer has named John Nater as the deputy House leader and is keeping John Brassard as deputy whip.
The Conservative leader has also named longtime MP Diane Finley back to her role as caucus-party liaison and has moved past deputy House leader Chris Warkentin into a new role as the liaison between the Conservative caucus and Scheer’s office, referred to as the “OLO”.
This team will be in regular contact and hold weekly meetings with the government and other opposition parties’ House leadership teams to discuss the legislative agenda.
“By reducing the Liberals to a minority, Canadians have put this government on notice and empowered our opposition,” Scheer said. “Our strengthened party will use every tool available to us to correct the mistakes of this government.”
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shook up his House leadership team, naming Pablo Rodriguez as the new government House leader and Kristy Duncan as his deputy House leader. Mark Holland is staying on as the chief government whip and Ginette Petitpas Taylor returns to a role she held earlier on in the last Parliament as deputy whip.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh revealed his two leads for his House leadership team over the weekend, returning Peter Julian to the House leader role and naming Rachel Blaney as NDP whip.
Singh rolled out his entire critic roster Thursday afternoon including rookie NDP MPs Heather McPherson and Lindsay Mathyssen as the deputy House leader and deputy whip, respectively. Singh’s deputy leader is Alexandre Boulerice. The NDP caucus chair is Brian Masse and the caucus vice chair is Laurel Collins.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has named Alain Therrien as his party’s House leader, Claude DeBellefeuille as the whip, and Dean of the House of Commons—meaning the longest-serving MP—is Bloc Quebecois MP Louis Plamondon, who is also the chair of the Bloc Québécois caucus.
Scheer will present his list of critics for the other ministerial files, or as he refers to them: “shadow cabinet” on Friday.