Chief of staff Marc-André Leclerc and director of communications Brock Harrison will no longer serve in their roles “effective immediately,” according to an email sent by Scheer to staff and the Conservative caucus, obtained by Global News.
Scheer made the “staff changes” ahead of the upcoming Parliament session on Dec. 5.
A Conservative source speaking to Global News on background confirmed the two were fired, effective immediately.
“Following the election results, and as we gear up to hold Justin Trudeau to account in this new minority Parliament, I felt it was important to make changes at the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition,” Scheer wrote.
“I would like to thank Marc-André and Brock for their service to our team and to our movement over the past number of years. These decisions are never easy, especially when they involve friends. I wish them nothing but the best in all of their future endeavours.”
Leclerc, who has worked with the Conservatives for the last 10 years, told Global News he was retiring from federal politics.
“Of course, the results of the Oct. 21 are not what I expected. But they do not reflect all the efforts our team made before and during the campaign,” he said in a statement.
Leclerc thanked Scheer for his “trust and the opportunity to play a major role” in federal politics in a Twitter post.
At around the same time as Leclerc’s tweet, Harrison announced his time working with the leader of the opposition’s office had “come to an end” on Facebook. He described his time working with the Conservative party as a “short, intense, and life-changing experience.”
“I wish nothing but success to my former colleagues in the months ahead,” said Harrison. “We all poured ourselves into this campaign, and while I am part of changes that had to be made, I hope you all continue on with your eyes on the prize. Canada needs us.”
Permanent replacements for Leclerc and Harrison have not yet been named, but Scheer said the search is “already underway.”
In the interim, Scheer’s deputy chief of staff, Martin Bélanger, will serve as the acting chief of staff and his associate director of media relations, Simon Jefferies, will be the acting director of communications, the email read.
Bélanger has worked in politics since 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile, and took on the role of deputy chief of staff in January. Jefferies joined Scheer’s team in June after working as director of media relations for Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
Scheer, whose leadership has been the centre of tensions brewing within the Conservative Party, has been criticized for failing to defeat Trudeau. The leader of the Liberal Party faced a string of scandals including the SNC-Lavalin affair and multiple instances of wearing blackface.
While the Conservative Party made significant gains in Western Canada, the Liberals won a strong minority government, just 13 seats shy of a majority.
Throughout his campaign, Scheer came under fire during the election for his socially conservative views, including past remarks on same-sex marriage.
During a debate on same-sex marriage in Parliament in 2005, Scheer compared same-sex marriage to considering a dog’s tail as one of its legs.
When the Liberals drew attention to that speech via a tweet from then-cabinet minister Ralph Goodale in August, Scheer did not apologize, instead telling reporters the question of same-sex marriage was legally closed in Canada and a Conservative government would not bring it back up.
Scheer was asked if he thought being gay was a sin on Nov. 6 and replied:
“We made it very clear during the election, in the last few months and years, that our party is inclusive. We believe in equality of the rights of all Canadians. My personal opinion is that I respect the rights of every single Canadian. And my personal commitment is to stand up — that is my personal opinion — my personal commitment to Canadians is to always fight for the rights of all Canadians, including LGBTQ Canadians.”
On Monday, Conservative Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais announced he was leaving his party’s caucus over concerns about Scheer’s socially conservative views.
Dagenais told the Canadian Press Scheer’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage led to a “mass exodus” of support in Quebec, dashing the Conservatives’ hopes of electing more candidates in the province.
“We have wasted a unique opportunity and the result will be the same the next time if the current leader and those who advise him remain in office as is the case at this time,” Dagenais said.
This is a breaking news story. More information to come.