The Conservative Party needs a bold and “transformative” reset to carry it into the future, says its innovation critic Michelle Rempel Garner.
And while Rempel Garner isn’t saying whether she will run to become the new party leader, she also isn’t ruling it out.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson, Rempel Garner was asked about what she thinks the party needs in a new leader.
“I think we need somebody who’s really bold and wants transformative policy that very clearly and enthusiastically and unabashedly will come out and support the rights of all Canadians regardless of their sexuality, their gender, their background and somebody that gets that Canadians don’t want transactional politics,” she said.
“They want transformative politics.”
Her interview came in the wake of the decision by Andrew Scheer to resign after it was revealed he had used party funds to pay for the private-school education of four of his children, and after his election loss.
Scheer lost the election to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October despite Trudeau being dogged by the SNC-Lavalin scandal and his repeated wearing of blackface and brownface in the past.
The Liberals repeatedly hammered Scheer throughout that campaign over his opposition to same-sex marriage and his opposition to abortion, arguing he could not be trusted to leave the matter closed.
While the Conservatives swept seats in Alberta and Saskatchewan, they failed to make the kind of gains needed in the Greater Toronto Area and Quebec, which are seat-rich and key to determining which party will form government in elections.
Since then, Conservative caucus members and party insiders have warned that it was Scheer’s socially conservative views on marriage equality and reproductive choice that cost the party its chance at defeating Trudeau in those critical regions.
He announced last week he would resign following weeks of building pressure as well as an explosion of anger within the party after it became known that he had been using party funds to pay for the private education of his children without the knowledge of many senior members of the Conservative Fund.
Calls have since emerged for the party’s executive director, who says he approved the use of the funds, to resign.
Rempel Garner said one of the big questions for the party going forward will also be how it can ensure donors feel confident in how their contributions are being used, noting that “as public servants, we always have to be very careful about perception in using funds for personal expenses.”
And while she said it will be important to look at how the Fund is managed, she also wants to maintain the focus on proving to Canadians that the party is stable and able to hold the government to account.
“I also want to be able to show Canadians that we’ve got it together in the House and we’ve got a leadership team in place that I think is going to be capable of caretaking that while that (leadership contest) occurs,” she said.
So will she run?
“I think it’s too early to speculate. As a woman in politics, I think the inclination is always to sort of shrink back,” she said.
“There’s a lot of women who self de-select in situations like this so I won’t do that but I’m also not going to start speculating when we’re so fresh out of the gates.”