09.04.2017 02:27 PM

This week’s column: scheerly you’re mistaken

So, Andrew Scheer shuffled his “shadow cabinet” last week. It was newsworthy only in that it reminded us that the newly minted Conservative Party leader is, you know, not dead.

But he isn’t all that alive either. Scheer exists in some sort of political limbo, neither here nor there. Among other things, he is remarkably unremarkable. He is a nobody, doing nothing. He is the unleader.

And I’m not alone in my total indifference to the new Conservative leader, about whom I had to force myself to say something. Check this out, from the fellow who aggregates polls for CBC:

“Andrew Scheer’s honeymoon as the leader of the Conservative Party is the worst any new party leader has experienced in 14 years, as the Conservatives are only marginally more popular today than they were when Scheer won the party’s top job three months ago.”

Ouch. And:

“In polls conducted over the three months since Scheer was named leader, the Conservatives have averaged 32.1 per cent support. That’s 1.3 points higher than the Conservatives’ average poll support in the three months prior to the May 27 leadership vote.”

Also ouch. And:

“That score is below the average increase of 2.3 points experienced by past leaders since 1956, when comparing average support three months before and three months after a new leader is put in place.

“It is even further behind the average leadership bump of new Conservative leaders (including those of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties), which has come in at about four points—the same average increase newly-installed Official Opposition leaders have experienced.”

Worse than Stock Day! That one is going to leave a mark!

Now, I know all the excuses — Warren, you were Jean Chrétien’s special assistant and are hardly our target vote; it’s early days, give him time; it’s an aggregate of polling by CBC, what did you expect?; Trump is making it hard for every conservative these days; it’s summer and no one is paying attention; Trudeau’s socks, blah, blah, blah — so don’t bother regurgitating them. They won’t work.

The simple fact is this: the guy is a dud. He is invisible. He was the wrong choice.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that Andrew Scheer is a bad guy, or that he is evil and stupid like the aforementioned Donald Trump. He’s just not there, you know? He’s like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, where (spoiler alert!) Willis is a ghost and is the only guy who doesn’t know it.

Now, when you are up against Justin Trudeau, the guy who is the literal personification of charisma, that’s a bit of a problem. Trudeau is Cher, Scheer is Sonny. Trudeau is Dean Martin, Scheer is Jerry Lewis. Trudeau is Catherine Zeta-Jones and Scheer is Michael Douglas, age 100. Trudeau is Madonna and Scheer is 1,000 guys you can’t remember.

Anyway, you get the point. Scheer can’t compete with what Trudeau’s got. He just can’t. It almost makes you feel sorry for him.

Almost, that is. He’s been in the news twice, by my count, since becoming Conservative leader. Unfortunately for him, both occasions were massive flip-flops. One was when he hastily declared that he would no longer be talking to the avowedly racist Rebel Media, after his most senior aide helped to found it. The other was when he said he would not fund any universities who trampled on free speech—and funding universities is a provincial responsibility, by the way—and then hastily reversed himself over the “alt-right” (i.e., neo-Nazis) holding events at universities.

Not a good way to get in the papers, Blandy. 

When you add in his weirdo tendency to grin when discussing tragedies and untimely deaths, Andrew Scheer is basically unelectable. He’s toast.
I know, I know, Team Scheer. Joe Clark beat a Trudeau, and he was dull too. No one knew who he was, either. Bland works, etc.

Here’s a pro tip, Tories: when Joe Clark becomes your best and only talking point, you’ve already lost.

Start looking for your next leader, Team Tory. This one’s done before he starts.


  1. Miles Lunn says:

    I agree his shadow cabinet alone probably won’t do much but it could have an impact on the next leader. I think Lisa Raitt was a very good choice for deputy leader and if she does well here, it could set her up nicely for next time around. Likewise Erin O’Toole and Michael Chong were good choices and this might be what helps Michael Chong. Excluding Kellie Leitch and Brad Trost was a good signal that the party is not interested in pandering to the hard right. That won’t be enough to win, but at least will help them hold what they have and maybe pick up a few marginals. The bad choices were Polievere for Finance and Harder for women’s issues. Polievere is a good attack dog for the opposition, but terrible at appealing to anyone beyond the base, otherwise not someone you want in cabinet. Rachel Harder as a young female may have sounded like a good choice, but her views on abortion make her a non-starter for women’s issues (she would be for something like Transport or Agriculture, but not health or women’s issues, those two the person should be pro-choice).

    That being said, I think the Liberals are making a big mistake if they try to underestimate Scheer. Yes he is not the most likely to win, but we’ve seen far too many elections where candidates who weren’t expected to win do end up winning so if they take the arrogant attitude they have 2019 locked up it could bite them. On the other hand if they take their opposition seriously and govern well, no reason they cannot win again. It’s arrogance that ultimately is the downfall of most parties.

  2. BlueGritr says:

    Strong column. IMHO, Maxime Bernier was a legitimate threat to the Liberals; Scheer is a lightweight who will, in tennis terms, continue to make many unforced errors. In 2019, it won’t be so much that the federal Liberals will win the election, it will be the Conservatives who will lose it.

    • Warren says:

      Ditto. Bernier was the threat.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Got to disagree. Bernier is libertarian through and through and that doesn’t cut much ice in central Canada. Look at the Quebec MPs. More of them were with Scheer than Bernier. That speaks volumes.

      • BlueGritr says:

        Many of the CPC Quebec MPs did not support Bernier because of his position on Supply Management, which won’t be around much longer — at least not in its present form — because of forthcoming negotiated trade deals. As for Bernier’s libertarian views, no big deal because they would have softened by election time. The guy’s for real economic growth and responsible fiscal management. There’s no way Chretien/Manley would have even considered running enormous deficits. They were responsible Liberals. JT is not.

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Scheer may eventually find his footing and Justin lose his — cue inflexibility on the more than trial balloon about taxes, family farms and small businesses. Trudeau (and Morneau) can’t see the forest for the trees on this one and it will hurt big time. Revenue, of course, but elementary political stupidity, absolutely not.

  4. the salamander horde says:

    .. well said .. but as well, one can see Scheer as the innocuous caretaker to fill in post Rona, temporarily. Certainly, I believe the ReformaTories as heard via Sheer’s ‘statements’ for media to disburse.. ie posturing & froth – are currently driven by backroom operators. Whom? I don’t profess to know, but I believe he’s as much a puppet as he was as Speaker. Looking at the choices & posturing via ‘shadow ministers’ is just that, more puppetry of talking points.. from some weakass ‘war room’ flexing & flaunting its contrariness as if it were a sensible virtue or a certain weary attempt at wisdom.

    I define it all as ‘situational ethics’ – an analogy might be vague doctrine & dogma tossed in the blender.. and run intil its Scheer froth. You’re quite right re his facial girns, aw shucks grins & pudgy dimpling wrapped around all the appalling blandness & holier than thou demeanor.. Scheer is stuck in his odd evangelical persona.. its his cover story, like so many of them. Reminding Canadians that the coming Rapture is why our Environment is there for systemic trashing. Water, air, species, habitat are gawd’s gift to earnest Canadians.. just as Joe Oliver keeps proclaiming.. we must seize the window of opportunity.. get every drop or chunk of natural resources off to Asia.. you know – get it all to ‘tidewater’ to provide ‘Energy Security’ – and so what if entire food chains collapse, the soil runs off the land or the waters and land become toxic.. ? Its the economy mythology eh.. endless wonderful jobs & perpetual economic growth – so bring in those Temporary Foreign Workers.. !

    • Pedant says:

      Erm, Justin Trudeau supports pipelines to tidewater….

      • the salamander horde says:

        .. Trudeau is all over himself re pipelines.. tidewater
        Environment/Resources – Resources/Environment
        its as if Joe Oliver is coaching him backstage..
        Its the ECONOMY .. the Window of Opportunity
        the supertankers from Asia arriving for the harvest
        its hundreds of thousands of jobs
        Its all smoke & mirrors a la Harper Inc Big Energy LLC
        captured politics ? Captured government ..
        spelled otherwise as political sellout.. to foreign corporate boardroom

  5. Mario says:

    The small business tax changes are going to hurt more than people think and that will hurt the Trudeau.

    The rules about selling or transferring a business to a family member and the massive tax hit is not pretty.

    • Miles Lunn says:

      I think the small business tax changes won’t hurt them initially in the polls, where it might bite them in the spring of 2019 and summer. Third party advertising restrictions only take effect once the writ is dropped so I could see much like the unions have done against the PCs in Ontario, this mobilizing the business community to plaster the television with anti-Liberal ads much the same way the unions plastered Ontario with anti-PC ads. In many ways both are like tigers that if you leave alone nothing happens but you poke them too hard they bite back.

      • Matt says:

        Liberals MP’s have been hearing real anger during the summer over two things.

        1) Khadr payout

        2) Tax changes to small businesses.

        So much so they are actually going to the media with their stories. There is real fear among Liberal MP’s this will hurt them.

    • David says:

      I don’t think anything is hurting the Liberals under Trudeau. Remember Omar Khadr? Just right wing noise. No impact. Closing tax loopholes in the name of fairness is an easy sell for most Canadians. Of course, the business lobby is going to oppose. That’s what they do.

    • Pedant says:

      I’d like to believe that the Eau-bros’ (Trudeau/Morneau) impending hatchet of successful small business owners will hurt them, but I really don’t think it will.

      In 2015 I thought the Liberals’ plan, sadly now realized, to axe the $10K TFSA limit would lose them a lot of middle class votes but that wasn’t the case. The fact is that Canadians are in such a debt binge that the values of frugality and saving are held by too few citizens to matter to politicians.

      There are probably 100 mediocre public servants for every 1 successful business owner. You do the math; the Liberals certainly have.

      It would be nice if someone in the press gallery would bother to ask the Eau-bros what definition of “middle class” they are using.

    • doconnor says:

      Eliminating tax loopholes that people put a lot of effort into squeezing through probably makes people angrier then an equivalent tax rate increase.

  6. Don Johnson says:

    “Scheer can’t compete with what Trudeau’s got. He just can’t.”

    Who could? I see above you suggest Mad Max. I don’t think so.

    Justin has the charisma vote sewed up, no problem.

    I think the next election will be fought on entirely different issues and we will see then what the electorate as a whole thinks. Until then? Who knows? And didn’t you used to say something like “polls, schmolls”? I’m comfortable with Scheer as the leader, we’ll see how it all turns out. I think if it had been Max, we would have been guaranteed to lose.

  7. Andrew says:

    Very few businesses are NOT incorporated.

    Incorporating is the families limit financial liability against person assets.

    The TFSA accounts are still indexed to inflation. Most likely $6000 by 2019

  8. Mark says:

    Warren, are you saying it’s curtains for Scheer?

  9. Alan says:

    Trudeau will not survive the 2019 election. His failures just keep snowballing, going downhill.
    Kinsella is still hurting from Hilary losing, he’ll be totally lost when Trudeau does.

  10. PJH says:

    I dunno, but everytime I see Andrew Scheer…..I imagine him with freckles, neckerchief, straw hat, and voila……”Howdy Doody”…..
    Too bad Rona Ambrose had enough of politics…..she was very effective as interim leader……and would have had the leadership on a platter…..

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