Newly minted Con­ser­va­tive Leader Andrew Scheer is a well-known com­mod­ity among those pay­ing at­ten­tion to Ot­tawa, but is very likely a fresh face to many Cana­di­ans. So you might be won­der­ing just who is this long­time Saskatchewan MP who will take on Justin Trudeau’s Lib­er­als in 2019?

Well, who is he then?

Scheer is one of the long­est-serv­ing Con­ser­va­tive MPs in Ot­tawa, first elected in his Regina rid­ing in 2004. While never ris­ing to promi­nence as a cab­i­net min­is­ter in the Stephen Harper era, Scheer be­came Speaker of the House of Com­mons in 2011 — the im­par­tial referee dur­ing Com­mons de­bate.

Scheer made some con­tro­ver­sial rul­ings as Speaker, but was gen­er­ally known as a friendly and col­le­gial MP. He was also the chair of the pow­er­ful and se­cre­tive Board of In­ter­nal Econ­omy, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the op­er­a­tions of Par­lia­ment.

OK, that’s the pol­i­tics. But who is he re­ally?

A 38-year-old fa­ther of five who grew up in Ot­tawa, but he’s lived in Saskatchewan for much of his life.

Scheer spent most of his adult life in pol­i­tics. In the par­ti­san grind of Ot­tawa, Scheer was known as a nice guy, ap­proach­able even dur­ing the tens­est mo­ments of the Harper years.

He’s also deeply com­mit­ted to the con­ser­va­tive move­ment in Canada, and a re­li­gious man. He’s also a big Roughrid­ers fan.

Why didn’t I hear much about him dur­ing the lead­er­ship race?

Scheer didn’t ex­actly set the race on fire with his pol­icy pro­pos­als, but to be fair there were 14 can­di­dates and the me­dia cov­er­age was dom­i­nated by a guy who dropped out.

Scheer con­sis­tently fundraised and per­formed well in pub­lic polling — be­hind erst­while can­di­date Kevin O’Leary and Que­bec lib­er­tar­ian Maxime Bernier, but ahead of the rest of the pack head­ing in the fi­nal months of the cam­paign.

Un­like some can­di­dates, his lead­er­ship team was fo­cused less on head­lines or eye-grab­bing pol­icy and more on data and or­ga­niz­ing.

So you’re say­ing you didn’t see this com­ing?

Sure, fine, we didn’t see it com­ing. But that’s what makes pol­i­tics in­ter­est­ing! That’s why they play the game, etc. etc.

Early re­ports call him a “so­cial con­ser­va­tive.” What does that mean?

It’s com­pli­cated. Scheer didn’t run as an ex­plicit so­cial con­ser­va­tive. Brad Trost and Pierre Lemieux did, want­ing to re­open the abor­tion de­bate and op­pos­ing same-sex mar­riage.

While he’s thought to per­son­ally op­pose abor­tion and re­cent leg­is­la­tion grant­ing hu­man rights pro­tec­tions to trans­gen­der Cana­di­ans, he says he won’t be re­open­ing those de­bates if he be­comes prime min- is­ter. Still, so­cial con­ser­va­tive sup­port seemed to be the clincher on Satur­day night, al­low­ing Scheer to up­set front-run­ner Bernier. And you can ex­pect the Lib­er­als to at­tack him on this front.

So what DOES he stand for?

Es­sen­tially the same ap­proach to con­ser­vatism that Stephen Harper brought to Ot­tawa. Scheer has re­peat­edly said he wants to fo­cus on the com­mon ground that all con­ser­va­tives share. Things such as bal­anced bud­gets, low taxes, free speech and the like.

He cam­paigned on bal­anc­ing the bud­get within two years if elected in 2019, ax­ing the Lib­eral plan to price car­bon to re­duce GHG emis­sions, and to re-com­mit Cana­dian war­planes to the coali­tion bomb­ing cam­paign in Iraq.

He op­posed Mo­tion M-103, con­demn­ing Is­lam­o­pho­bia, be­cause he felt it lim­ited free speech, which it does not. He also would ban fed­eral fund­ing to uni­ver­si­ties that “limit free speech,” al­though how he’d de­ter­mine that re­mains to be seen.

Scheer’s pol­icy web­page was wiped off the In­ter­net Satur­day night, but is still avail­able through In­ter­net ar­chive tools. Ex­pect it to get a lot more scru­tiny lead­ing up to the 2019 elec­tion.


Andrew Scheer and his wife, Jill, cel­e­brate his win in the Con­ser­va­tive Party of Canada’s Lead­er­ship race at Satur­day’s party con­ven­tion in Toronto.

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