Lethbridge Herald

Tory hopefuls grilled on their past


Outgoing Conservati­ve Leader Andrew Scheer’s past became a problem during the 2019 federal election, and those vying to replace him will be grilled about theirs.

A copy of the 2020 leadership candidate applicatio­n form obtained by The Canadian Press asks a number of personal questions about a candidate’s history, including one about whether they’ve ever been accused of improper sexual behaviour.

The party says one of the reasons for the questionna­ire is to help plot electoral strategy, but the answer to one question Scheer would have been asked when he ran for leader in the 2017 contest appears to have escaped the planning for last fall’s federal election.

Then, and also now, the party asks whether a candidate is or has ever been a citizen of another country.

Scheer is a dual CanadianAm­erican citizen, but that informatio­n only became public during the campaign. The issue dogged him for days, along with a suite of other problems that forced his campaign off message.

How the campaign team dealt with that and other issues was studied as part of an external review conducted by former Conservati­ve cabinet minister John Baird.

Scheer said Tuesday he’s now received a copy of that report, thanking Baird via Twitter for doing the work.

“Looking forward to reviewing it and sharing feedback with the next Conservati­ve leader,” Scheer wrote.

In the aftermath of the election and in the face of much criticism about why he failed to form government, Scheer repeatedly pointed to Baird’s review as something he wanted to see before he’d make any changes to his political approach.

But those calling for change did not appear willing to wait, and after sustained pressure, Scheer announced in mid-December that he’d resign as soon as his replacemen­t was chosen.

Baird’s report will not officially be made public.

“This is a strategy document prepared for the leader of the party,” Scheer’s spokesman Simon Jefferies said in an email.

“Political parties do not make internal strategy documents public.”

How much the Conservati­ve party knows about its candidates also became an issue in 2018, when revelation­s surfaced that the party was aware a candidate in the 2015 election had been accused of sexual assault.

Despite knowing of the allegation­s, the party — including former leader Stephen Harper — allowed then-MP Rick Dykstra to remain on the ballot.

Dykstra has denied doing anything wrong.

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