I have been predicting ever since election night that Andrew Scheer would take a walk in the snow over the Christmas holidays and, early in the new year, announce that he’s resigning from the Conservative Party leadership.
I was aware that the knives were out for him. But I didn’t know they would plunge them into his battered body with only 12 shopping days left before Christmas. Clearly, the insurgents thought he wasn’t going to take a walk in the snow, so they chose to force the issue.
The issue Thursday was the same old issue: Scheer isn’t who he said he is.
He is a former insurance salesman who never sold a policy. He’s a guy who doesn’t believe in dual citizenship but who has two passports. He is staunchly anti-abortion, but won’t say why. He is staunchly opposed to equal marriage, but won’t say why.
And until Thursday, he was just a regular, down-home guy — “Andy Everyman” — but now that mask has been peeled off his self-righteous face. It turns out that the Everyman isn’t satisfied with making a quarter of a million dollars a year, some of it tax-free, with free housing in a mansion and free food cooked by a chef.
Apparently, Mr. Everyman also wants party donors, 90 per cent of whom don’t make anywhere close to his coin, paying for his children’s private school education.
When this news was leaked by people trying to motivate him to take that walk in the snow, it seems even former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper was upset about it.
Global News’ Ottawa bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson, who broke the story about Scheer’s private school perk, told me that. My conversation with her is below. Listen to it to get the full flavour of how angry rank-and-file Conservative members and blue-chippers are.
Now for a little inside baseball.
There was a movement inside the Conservative Party, led by Harper loyalists, to coax Scheer into leaving earlier rather than later. That movement would not have existed without the blessing of both Harper and the most powerful person inside the party next to the leader himself — the boss of the Conservative Party fund, Irving Gerstein. He was left out of the loop on the deal to give Scheer a top-up to cover private school tuition. Harper, who also sits on that board, was left in the dark as well.
Once it became clear to those gentlemen that the president of the party had signed off on this, they became angry with him and Scheer.
So the major takeaway from this week’s events is the following: don’t tick off Harper and Gerstein. You do that at your own peril. But you don’t have to take it from me — now you can just ask Scheer.
Whoever succeeds Scheer, the process will be a waste of time for the Conservative Party of Canada unless the new leader is a modern Canadian conservative. That includes having a comfort level with equal marriage, reproductive choice, climate change, multiculturalism, immigration and the French language. Nobody who isn’t fully and absolutely bilingual is going to be a serious contender in Quebec.
I used to vote Conservative. But like so many others who haven’t been reliable big-C Conservatives in the last two election cycles, unless the Conservatives choose this time to go for a modern, progressive conservative, we will stay away from Team Blue.
Charles Adler hosts Charles Adler Tonight on Global News Radio stations.