Scheer damaged Speaker’s office by re-entering partisan politics, May alleges

Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May speaks in Toronto prior to a fireside chat about the climate, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Green Leader Elizabeth May is accusing Andrew Scheer of doing “permanent damage” to the respect for the office of the Speaker by re-entering partisan politics.

The Conservative leader became the youngest Speaker in the history of the House of Commons in 2011 at age 32, and he held the role until 2015.

May said Scheer diving back into politics as Conservative leader goes against a long-standing tradition.

“Andrew Scheer used the position of Speaker of the House of Commons as a stepping stone to advance his political career, which breaks with every parliamentary tradition of every commonwealth country, not just Canada,” she said. “When you are Speaker of the House you have to be, forgive the expression, politically neutered.”

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May suggested Scheer planned his Conservative party leadership bid from the Speaker’s residence, but a spokesman for Scheer noted he didn’t launch his campaign until about a year after he left the role.

“Mrs. May’s allegations are so outlandish they barely warrant a response,” Simon Jefferies said in a statement. “Mr. Scheer launched his campaign for leader in 2016.”

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May argued that Scheer should not have gone back into active politicking.

“It was quite wrong of Andrew to be Speaker of the House and then go back into partisan politics at all,” she said. “I think he’s done permanent damage to the respect of the office of Speaker.”

Recent Speakers have served until they retired from Parliament. The last Speaker to return even to being a regular MP was John Bosley, a Progressive Conservative who was Speaker for two years in the mid-1980s and then served another 1 1/2 terms in the Commons before being defeated in the Tory wipeout of 1993.

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A Speaker in the 1960s, Marcel Lambert, served briefly in the federal cabinet afterward and then as an opposition critic for the Progressive Conservatives. Both Bosley and Lambert were chosen under a different system of naming Speakers from the modern secret ballot in the Commons, when the position was effectively assigned by the prime minister.

May discussed the role of the Speaker at a press conference Tuesday in Toronto while weighing in on questions surrounding Scheer’s insurance credentials.

The Liberals are asking Saskatchewan’s insurance-industry watchdogs to investigate Scheer for allegedly falsely claiming he once worked as an insurance broker in that province. Scheer has said he received his accreditation but left a job at an insurance office before the licensing process was complete.

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May said an official investigation is overkill.

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“Even if Andrew Scheer was a licensed broker before he was elected to Parliament, his pre-politics resume is so thin it barely bears examining,” she said, noting that Scheer was in his mid-20s when elected.

May, who became Green leader in 2006, criticized career politicians as people who don’t understand the day-to-day struggles of Canadians, while standing next to a 19-year-old Green candidate. She told the young woman to leave politics after serving two terms.

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