Some of the highest-ranking members of the Conservative Party will be in Ottawa over the next 48 hours to figure out what went wrong in last week’s election.
Chief opposition whip Mark Strahl, Conservative house leader Candace Bergen, Quebec political lieutenant Alain Rayes and others have been summoned for two days of meetings with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Global News has learned.
While a number of Conservative MPs reached by Global News continue to see the election result in a positive light, others who spoke on condition of anonymity say they want to know what went wrong — specifically in the Greater Toronto Area, where the Conservatives were hoping to make significant gains.
Those come on the heels of repeated reports citing party insiders who pointed the finger at Scheer’s stance opposing reproductive rights and same-sex marriage as the reason why the party failed to resonate with voters in the seat-rich areas of Quebec and Ontario, particularly the Greater Toronto Area.
Despite that, Scheer and his team have framed the fact that they lost the election but gained more seats than they had heading into the election — along with a greater share of the popular vote than the Liberals were able to get — as wins for Scheer, who has vowed he will stay on as leader.
“The election result was disappointing, but it was a moral victory,” one MP told Global News.
Now, it seems the question will be whether that is enough.
In all, 6.1 million Canadians voted for the Conservatives while 5.9 million cast ballots for the Liberals.
But the decision to stay on as leader isn’t just up to Scheer.
Because he did not win the election, he faces an automatic leadership review in April 2020, and since the loss, some members of the party have been lashing out.
“A partial victory is still a loss,” argued Terence Young, a defeated Conservative candidate from the Greater Toronto Area, in comments to The Globe and Mail on Monday.
Young served as an MP from 2008 until he was first defeated in 2015. He was then defeated a second time last week.
In his interview, Young said that simply being nice doesn’t mean someone deserves a second shot.
“This isn’t a Rotary club, this is our country — and no one deserves a second chance because people like them,” Young said.
His apparent frustration over Scheer was echoed in a tweet issued by a former Conservative staffer who worked under the last Tory government.
Sara MacIntyre, who served as a press secretary to former prime minister Stephen Harper, blasted Scheer over the weekend for his refusal to take part in Pride parades and his opposition to same-sex marriage.
“I am pissed off that the leader of my party will not walk in a Pride parade,” she wrote.
“I am sick of this, disgusted and ashamed. I believe in and support LBGTQ rights, gay marriage and being equal.
“I no longer support the CPC while a leader like this is at the helm.”
Scheer has long faced questions about why he refuses to take part in Pride parades, which are public celebrations of equality, human dignity and LGBTQ2 rights.
Despite the questions about whether his opposition to same-sex marriage hurt his party in urban ridings including the Greater Toronto Area, Scheer categorically ruled out taking part in a Pride parade in the future in an interview with the West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson over the weekend.
He insisted in an interview with the Canadian Press that it’s possible to hold socially-conservative views and still become prime minister.
Sources would not tell Global News which specific issues would be on the agenda for the Ottawa meetings.
But one week after the election loss, frustration and concerns about Scheer’s views are showing few signs of going away.
Polling done exclusively for Global News by Ipsos on Oct. 21 suggested 63 per cent of Canadians felt Scheer should resign if he did not win, and that may be one of the issues top Conservatives need to grapple with as they meet to discuss what went wrong.
“Many Conservative voters were happy with him as leader and excited. Some weren’t,” said Sean Simpson, vice president of Ipsos.
“But the vast majority of Canadians outside of Conservative Party voters would like to see him gone.”
— With files from Global’s Amanda Connolly