That Scheer and his wife Jill would appear at a branch of the beloved national coffee chain topped off Scheer’s efforts to double double down on his plan to win a majority government by selling a fervently nationalist message in Quebec, promising to respect and enhance its place in the federation.
Its current MP was at the heart of political chaos for the party after the 2015 election.
Rhéal Fortin became the BQ’s interim leader after its former boss, Gilles Duceppe, failed to win a seat in that campaign.
Fortin chose not to run for permanent leadership, and after frustration with the winner of that contest, briefly left the BQ.
He’s now back in the fold, but the Conservatives are hoping to capitalize on the uncertainty by running a star candidate in the riding: former Olympic champion Sylvie Fréchette.
She attracted her own share of controversy at the start of the campaign. She was among the Quebec candidates who were saying publicly that a Conservative government wouldn’t allow backbench members to bring forward motions or legislation seeking to curtail access to abortion.
While Scheer has said he’d personally oppose the idea, he has not said he’d forbid his members of Parliament from trying.
The confusion saw abortion rights suddenly become a question Scheer could not avoid, as his party, the public and the media sought clarity for days on both the leader’s personal position and how he’d handle it in government.
It would take until after the first French-language debate — which saw Scheer get pummelled by his opponents for obfuscating his position — for Scheer to be clear: he is personally opposed to abortion, but would not back any effort to re-open the debate.
Outside a Tim Hortons in a Montreal suburb this morning, Frechette chalked the whole thing up to a misunderstanding, and said Scheer had always been clear about where he stood.
“For me, it’s just very sad that we wasted so much energy on something that was already covered and was clear,” she said.
Scheer’s campaign is now moving into Ontario for campaign events in Essex and the Hamilton suburb of Ancaster.
As Scheer is appearing in the southern part of the province, his provincial counterpart, Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford, is slated to have his own events in the northern region.
Ford has kept a very low profile during the election campaign — his event Wednesday is the first time in weeks he will take reporters’ questions.
The Liberals have repeatedly invoked his name in their attacks on Scheer, accusing the federal leader of wanting to carry out a similar agenda that would result in service cuts.
Scheer has denied that’s the case.