Scheer welcomes former Liberal MP Alleslev to Conservative caucus
Janice Dickson, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2018 9:49AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 19, 2018 1:48PM EDT
OTTAWA -- Despite a summer that saw Andrew Scheer lose a prominent member of the Conservative party, he tried to fire up his caucus Wednesday by introducing its newest member.
Scheer told the Conservative caucus he is proud to welcome former Liberal MP Leona Alleslev, who made the stunning announcement Monday that she is leaving the governing Liberals to join their federal rivals.
"It's great to see all of you again, and even better, it's great to see more of you than the last time we were here," said Scheer.
He highlighted Alleslev's decision to cross the floor and flagged Richard Martel's recent byelection victory for the Conservatives in Quebec.
But there was no mention of Maxime Bernier -- the Quebec MP who announced Aug. 23 he was leaving the Conservative party and starting his own political movement, calling his former leader and colleagues "intellectually and morally corrupt" as he slammed the door on his way out.
Conservatives were livid at Bernier's move and have argued that adding another party on the right side of the political spectrum will split the vote and allow the Liberals to easily win another majority government.
But if Scheer is harbouring any worry over Bernier's power-play move, it did not show Wednesday.
Instead, Scheer focused on Alleslev, calling the Toronto-area MP accomplished, principled and courageous -- qualities he said don't count for much "if you're a Liberal."
"But as Conservatives, we know them when we see them and we know that Canada needs them too."
Scheer presented Alleslev with an official Conservative party membership card.
For her part, Alleslev thanked caucus for making her feel "valued" and said she is overwhelmed by the support she has received from her constituents and the public.
"Canadians know that the world has changed dramatically in the last three years and our country especially now needs strong federal leadership," she said, adding that leadership is "more than just saying what you think people want to hear. It's more than just acting in a position."
Alleslev says her concerns about the Liberal government's handling of crucial files such as the economy and trade were met with silence, prompting her to leave.
After welcoming her, Scheer launched into a speech about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's challenges -- repeating a line Conservatives have used frequently this week.
"You might even say that for Justin Trudeau, the summer of 2018 was his summer of failures."
Scheer said Canadians are worrying that tomorrow might not be better than today, adding, "Their story is Leona's story."
.@LeonaAlleslev starts her speech by thanking everyone for making her “immediately feel so welcome and valued.” She says she is overwhelmed by the support she has received from her new colleagues and from those in her riding— Annie BergeronOliver (@AnnieClaireBO) September 19, 2018
Alleslev says Canadians know they need strong leadership because the world isn’t the same as it was four years ago. “It’s more than just acting in a position. Leadership is a vision with courageous action.” #cdnpoli— Annie BergeronOliver (@AnnieClaireBO) September 19, 2018
Scheer says he learned something about Trudeau this summer: “his failure doesn’t end in the summer.” He says Trudeau has failed on creating new jobs, on passing TPP, getting a NAFTA deal and on creating a minister for border security who doesn’t really deal with border security— Annie BergeronOliver (@AnnieClaireBO) September 19, 2018