For someone who apparently deplores Justin Trudeau’s sunny ways, Andrew Scheer smiles an awful lot. The new Conservative leader radiates positivity, even when he bashes his Liberal foe — a sense of indefatigable optimism that helped push him to victory at the Conservative leadership event Saturday night.
In short, Scheer is hard not to like. His aw-shucks demeanour stood in stark contrast to the overconfidence of his chief rival, Maxime Bernier, who gave what came off as a victory speech the night before the final vote, on the assumption that he was going to take the crown the morning after.
That faux pas may have been the clincher. In a race where only 1.9 per cent of the points separated Bernier and Scheer, enough undecided voters may have opted for Scheer over Bernier on the last day to help put the Saskatchewan MP over the top. Together with the support of Quebec dairy farmers hell-bent on preserving supply management, and social conservatives seeking a pro-life champion, Scheer triumphed on the 13th ballot, in what was a surprisingly exciting and suspenseful “convention”, despite the fact that most of the ballots had been mailed in weeks before.
But Scheer-fulness will not be enough for the tasks that lie ahead: holding the Conservative party together and carving a path to victory in the 2019 federal election. Already, the new leader is facing a pile of IOUs, most notably from the social conservative wing of the party. Minutes after his victory, pro-life groups began congratulating him on his win — and making their expectations of him clear.
“Andrew is a leader we are excited to work with because of his voting record, positive pro-life policies and his goal to unite the party and accept that social conservatives need to be part of the conversation,” said the cofounder of RightNow, Scott Hayward, in a news release.
The anti-abortion group We Need a Law sent out an email quoting something Scheer said during the campaign: “I believe 100 per cent that members of Parliament have the right to bring forward and debate legislation of importance to them.”
“We are encouraged,” the email goes on to say, “by this promise of a friendlier and more welcoming environment in Parliament for individual members to introduce legislation protecting pre-born human rights.”
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