OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said Thursday that despite considerable party infighting over his future as leader, he will remain at the helm, and as a show of how he intends to change the party, he’s appointed a former Liberal as his new No. 2.
Toronto-area MP Leona Alleslev was named deputy leader of the Conservatives on Thursday morning, replacing former deputy leader Lisa Raitt, a longtime MP who lost her own Toronto-area seat in the October federal election.
Alleslev was first elected as a Liberal in 2015, but crossed the floor to join the Conservatives in September 2018, saying at the time she disagreed with the Liberals’ handling of the economy and foreign affairs.
She declined to answer questions from reporters Thursday, leaving Scheer to explain why he plucked her out his 120-member caucus, as opposed to others who had been in the trenches with the Tories for years.
“This is all about moving forward,” Scheer said.
“Leona embodies exactly the type of person that we are trying to reach out to, to show that if you have voted Liberals 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 has kept some longtime loyalists on the team who will manage the party’s affairs in the House of Commons, including Candice Bergen, who will remain as House leader, and Mark Strahl, who will stay as chief Opposition whip.
Many members of the party have been outspoken in recent days about Scheer’s failure to win a majority government in October, citing a variety of reasons why they feel he can no longer stay on as leader and demanding he resign.
Two campaigns have now been launched to galvanize grassroots support against Scheer, in the hopes of either forcing him to step aside soon, or lose a leadership review that will be held at the party’s convention in April 2020.
Scheer reiterated Thursday he intends to spend the coming months making the case for why he should stay on.
In the meantime, he intends to remain where he is.
“I am staying on to fight the fight that Canadians elected us to do,” he said.
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Nov. 28, 2019.
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