Scheer resigns as Conservative leader
December 12, 2019, 1:25 pm
Andrew Scheer has decided to resign as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada after a disappointing election loss.
Scheer made the announcement in the House of Commons on Thursday after announcing the decision to Conservative MPs at a caucus meeting earlier Thursday morning.
He said he has asked the Conservative governing council to immediately begin the process to elect a new leader.
He said it was one of the most difficult decisions of his life.
“I just informed my colleagues in the Conservative caucus that I will resign as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and I will be asking the Conservative Party National Council to organize the process of a leadership election,” he told the House of Commons.
“As our party embarks on this exciting opportunity, electing a new leader and Canada’s next prime minister, I intend to stay on as leader of the party and the Official Opposition.”
He was emotional in his seven-minute speech to the House of Commons, interrupted multiple times by applause and standing ovations from his caucus. His wife Jill was in the gallery watching.
“Our party is not a cult of personality it is not shaped by whoevers name is on the masthead ,” Scheer said. “My only ask to my fellow Conservatives is this: let’s stay united.”
The decision comes as former Conservative cabinet minister John Baird has been briefing Conservative MPs this week about his review of the party’s election campaign.
It also came the same morning Global News reported Scheer was using money from the Conservative Party to pay for his children’s private school tuition.
The Conservative Party said it was normal practice for parties to cover costs associated with relocating the national leader to Ottawa.
“This includes a differential in schooling costs between Regina and Ottawa. All proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people,” said Dustin van Vugt, the executive director of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Scheer, who has five children, said the hectic pace of leading the Conservative Party – especially during the election campaign – took a toll on his family and his wife, Jill, who he called “heroic.”
“In order to chart the course ahead, this party needs a leader who can give 100 per cent to this effort. So after a conversation with my kids, my loved ones, I felt it was time to put my family first,” he said.
Scheer urged party faithful to “stay united” and focus on winning the next election.
Scheer won the leadership of the party in 2017.
Party leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, paid tribute to Scheer in the Commons following his resignation.
Trudeau saluted Scheer’s wife, Jill, and his five children, “who I know better than most have made significant sacrifices to see their father take on a leadership position like this.”
“We are politicians, we are in this House, not in spite of having kids, but because we have kids, and are dedicated to building a better world for them with everything we have. And I respect that deeply of him and thank him,” Trudeau said.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said despite differences of opinion, he always had a respectful relationship with Scheer.
“I wish with all my heart that in light of this very difficult decision that every day that will follow this day will bring peace and the certainty that this was the right decision,” Blanchet said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he recognizes the difficulties that public life presents, and thanked Scheer for “taking up that mantle, for being in public service.”
“It’s a big sacrifice, and I know the member knows that very well, and I know his family knows that very well,“ Singh said.
Scheer told the House he intends to stay on as an MP for Regina, but his future positions in the party “are discussions for another day.”
He concluded by offering some “good-natured ribbing” to Trudeau.
“I haven’t fact checked this yet…but I believe I’m the first person in Canadian history to get more votes than a Trudeau,” Scheer said to laughs.