‘If not Andrew, who?’: political scientist weighs in on calls for Scheer’s resignation

‘If not Andrew, who?’: political scientist weighs in on calls for Scheer’s resignation
After the province turned blue in the last election, Saskatchewanians now seem split when it comes to Scheer support.

The calls are getting louder in the east, but the answer is staying the same: Andrew Scheer is not stepping down as Conservative leader.

“There are certainly people that may have interest in having a leadership race right now,” Scheer said in a press conference on Thursday. “I believe it’s in our party’s best interest to stay united, to stay focused on the task at hand, and that is showing Canadians that we’re ready to govern this country.”

Earlier this week, party supporters in Montreal put the Regina Qu’Appelle MP on blast, calling for his resignation.

READ MORE: After week of challenges, Scheer heads to Conservative heartland of Alberta

But in a province taken over by the blue wave this last election, Saskatchewanians seem split when it comes to Scheer support.

“I think he’s sincere; he’s honest. The only difficulty he’s having is his advisers didn’t give him the right answers,” said Conservative supporter Glen Denham. “He’s got a little problem with his management team, but that will all straighten away.”

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“He will be the next prime minister by the way,” Denham said.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Will Canadian social conservatives sink Andrew Scheer?

“He’s probably like everybody else, when they start out he’s made a few mistakes. But so does everybody else,” said Gerald Skeels, who voted Conservative.

While some leaders choose to resign after not gaining a majority government, political scientist Jim Farney said it’s not a convention.

“What’s happening now is really loud voices saying, ‘Hey this guy lost, we need to do better next time. Let’s get rid of it now and kind of start fresh,'” Farney said. “They are an internally divided party regionally and ideologically and it comes out in questions around the leadership.”

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“You’re seeing the social conservatives say he wasn’t socially conservative enough. You’re seeing the more progressive wing say he’s too socially conservative.”

The Conservative Party went down this road not too long ago. In 2017, Scheer was elected as leader after Stephen Harper’s resignation.

Farney said the question now becomes: “If not Andrew, who?”

“It’s a sweep of provincial politicians rather than serious contenders who have federal presence,” Farney said. “It could be just like the leadership election. Scheer survives by virtue of being everybody’s acceptable choice.”

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READ MORE: Scheer fires 2 top aides in wake of federal election loss: source

Conservatives gained ground this last election, winning 121 seats compared to 95 in 2015. Despite the positive gains, Farney said calls for resignation could shadow a “subterranean fight inside the party.”

“Something in the firing of his senior staff suggests that there’s a lot going on there,” Farney said. “Is it a management style thing? Is it strategic decisions that were made in the election about which policies to support?”

“It’s hard to see from outside the Ottawa bubble what that was.”

Scheer will undergo a leadership review and confidence vote at the Conservative Party Convention in April.

“We’re going to do the hard work, do the necessary work to ensure that we finish the job we started, that I finish the job that we started, and win the next election,” Scheer said.