The opposition Conservatives were disappointed by the loss of a seat in British Columbia last week, says House leader Candice Bergen, but the party intends to keep pushing a “positive” message to Canadians in the months to come.
Bergen joined Vassy Kapelos this weekend in The West Block, and acknowledged that the byelection losses suffered on Dec. 11 were discouraging. The Conservatives managed to secure a victory in just one of the four ridings that were up for grabs, and lost their seat in South Surrey-White Rock in the process.
“I think byelections, certainly they’re important, but as well, sometimes things are going on in Ottawa that people outside the bubble aren’t watching,” Bergen said.
WATCH: Opposition continues to attack Morneau’s integrity
The apparent disconnect — between the issues being shouted about during Question Period and the things that Canadians connect with at home — is something that the Conservatives witnessed first-hand during their door-to-door campaigning, she added. The controversies surrounding Finance Minister Bill Morneau‘s personal assets are a good example.
“We heard a lot of ‘we don’t quite trust the finance minister. The things that he’s doing, we’re not necessarily certain of what it is, but we don’t quite trust what’s going on,'” Bergen said.
It may not be hurting them at the ballot box just yet, she predicted, but if the Liberals begin to take their support for granted, “that kind of arrogance, people do start to see through.”
“I was around in 2013 when we were in majority government, and I know how things can change very, very much in two years.”
It’s been a busy fall for Bergen and the official Opposition as a whole, with Conservative critics across the aisle going after the government for everything from controversial changes to tax regulations to ongoing backlogs in the immigration system.
All the while, Andrew Scheer has been trying to establish himself as the new face of the Tory brand.
“We just have to keep working. We want to get our new leader Andrew Scheer’s face, his message, who he is, out there,” Bergen told Kapelos.
“What we’re going to continue to do is show Canadians that we’re not only a government in waiting, but they can count on us to have a positive message.”
That positive message may have gotten buried over the last several weeks, however, tempers flared repeatedly in the House of Commons. One Conservative MP, Blake Richards, was even ejected from the House in a rare move by Speaker Geoff Regan after he refused to pipe down.
WATCH: Speaker forcibly removes Blake Richards from House of Commons
Bergen said the Conservatives are trying to keep their tone respectful, but it’s not easy when the government won’t answer questions and instead relies on talking points.
“That’s disrespectful,” she said. “It’s our job to oppose the government. We can’t them get away with some of the things that they’re doing.”
Bergen added that her party isn’t “lighting our hair on fire for nothing. We are working with the government, I think you will have seen, on different pieces of legislation.”
— Watch the full interview with Conservative House leader Candice Bergen above