Who could replace Andrew Scheer as Conservative leader?
TORONTO -- The guessing game has kicked off as to who will replace Andrew Scheer as the leader of the federal Conservatives.
And although it’s extremely early and no candidates have officially put their names forward, some commentators are weighing in as to who could replace him.
Since the disappointing election results for the Conservatives, Scheer has fired several staff members and kicked off a post-mortem of the party’s showing – all amidst grumblings of insiders wanting him to step down.
Former minister of foreign affairs Peter MacKay has long been seen as a strong candidate for the role. He’s said the Conservatives' failing to defeat the Liberals on Oct. 21 "was like having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net." Before Scheer’s resignation, MacKay publicly distanced himself from rumours he was gunning for the party’s top job.
Conservative MP Erin O’Toole has also been cited as a name to keep an eye out for. Widely seen as a moderate, O’Toole finished third in the 2017 leadership race, but he’s not necessarily well-known across the country.
Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has long been cited as a potential leader on the national level, but said two years ago that he was swearing off politics. He reiterated this stance on Friday.
MULRONEY AND RAITT OUT
Some analysts have suggested Ontario Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney could vie for the role, but she put out a statement saying unequivocally that she is “not running for leader.”
Other names bandied about in Conservative ranks include Ontario MPs Pierre Poilievre and Michael Chong, as well as former Minister of International Trade Michael Fortier. But none have expressed any interest publicly.
CTV political commentator and former Conservative MP Lisa Raitt, whose name has been floated around as a possibility, has repeatedly stressed she doesn’t want the job. But for those who are interested in the role, she advises them to move quickly.
“What we should be focusing on is moving forward … and encouraging everyone out there who’ve been thinking about running that now’s your time,” she told CTV News Channel. “Get your name out … because if you’re early in the race you do have a better chance of winning.”
Rona Ambrose is another big name floating around. The interim leader of the Conservative Party between 2015 and 2017 has been praised for her performance during that period.
THE SOCIAL CONSERATIVE DILEMMA
Zain Velji, the former campaign manager for Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, told CTV News Channel that for many conservatives, Scheer’s announcement “comes as no surprise.”
According to Velji, Scheer was widely seen as an “accidental leader in many ways,” who had cobbled together a loose coalition of pragmatic Conservatives who didn’t necessarily believe in him whole-heartedly.
Many feel Scheer owed his entire leadership to social conservatives including former MP Brad Trost, who threw their support behind Scheer at the 2017 convention. But by refusing to make statements against abortion and marriage equality, Scheer was left in an untenable position when it came to retaining that support.
Still, Scheer shifted the party further to the right to appeal to social conservatives, which Velji described as “a huge mistake” that cost him urban voters in ridings in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
Bishiop’s University political science professor Jerald Sabin said Quebec, which he called “fertile ground” for Conservatives, would need to be better spoken to by the next leader.
He said Quebecers wouldn’t be opposed to a centre or centre-right party but they would need to focus more on provincial autonomy, pipelines, environment and a green economy.
With files from The Canadian Press