Buck­ing global trend

An­drew Scheer’s win­ning lead­er­ship of the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive party Satur­day goes against ris­ing pop­ulist tide.

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page -

Con­ser­va­tives around the world have sought to shake up the po­lit­i­cal sta­tus quo in the last year, vot­ing for Bri­tain to leave the Euro­pean Union, elect­ing a com­plete po­lit­i­cal neo­phyte as pres­i­dent of the United States.

For a time, it looked like Cana­dian con­ser­va­tives were headed down a sim­i­lar path.

For the first 12 rounds of count­ing Satur­day night, the leader they were poised to elect was Maxime Bernier, a Que­bec MP with a lib­er­tar­ian bent whose pol­icy pro­pos­als in­cluded slay­ing sa­cred cows like sup­ply man­age­ment in agri­cul­ture and fed­eral health care fund­ing.

But in the end, the Tories couldn’t bring them­selves to do it, in­stead hand­ing An­drew Scheer the keys to the Op­po­si­tion leader’s res­i­dence, giv­ing him 50.95 per cent of the avail­able points over Bernier’s 49.05.

Scheer’s cam­paign slo­gan was “Scheer ex­cite­ment,’’ and there was no doubt in the af­ter­math of his win sup­port­ers were vi­brat­ing with just that.

“He just hit the right bal­ance of val­ues and ex­pe­ri­ence and he was a very gen­uine per­son,’’ said sup­porter Les­lie Whicher.

“He’s the kind of per­son the whole team can rally around. He’s not too far on one di­rec­tion or another.’’

In his plat­form with bou­tique tax cuts, tough talk on ex­trem­ism, even his re­lease of his “five key pri­or­i­ties,’’ Scheer was also the can­di­date many saw as any echo of Stephen Harper, the party’s first and only leader.

So what came to mind for some ob­servers was a but­ton avail­able on the lead­er­ship event floor read­ing “Scheer Bored.’’

Scheer is the “Goldilocks’’ can­di­date, not too hot, not too cold, said Gerry Ni­cholls, the for­mer vice-pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Cit­i­zens Coali­tion, a con­ser­va­tive lobby group.

“I guess they call them con­ser­va­tives for a rea­son,’’ he said.

“They didn’t want to take that rad­i­cal, sort of pop­ulist step, or even maybe that lib­er­tar­ian step. They’d rather just sort of be safe.’’

The thing is, said poll­ster Frank Graves, it seemed like the Con­ser­va­tives were in fact ready to not just take the step, but jump.

The ma­jor­ity of Cana­dian Con­ser­va­tive sup­port­ers he’s polled have backed not just Trump, but the right-wing can­di­date Ma­rine LePen who mounted a strong cam­paign in the re­cent elec­tions in France.

While yes, so­cial con­ser­va­tives did help Trump win and are un­der­stood to have helped Scheer too, those views are out of lock­step with the ma­jor­ity of Cana­di­ans and there’s lit­tle po­lit­i­cal trac­tion to be gained from seiz­ing on them na­tion­ally, Graves said.

CP PHOTO

An­drew Scheer, right, is con­grat­u­lated by Maxime Bernier after be­ing elected the new leader of the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive party at the fed­eral Con­ser­va­tive lead­er­ship con­ven­tion in Toronto on Satur­day.

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