Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Erin O'Toole and Andrew Scheer stand the best chance of keeping Maxime Bernier from becoming leader of the Conservative Party on May 27. But since both these potential king-slayers seem determined to fight each other as well as the front-runner, neither might succeed.

Mr. Bernier, the 54-year-old MP for Beauce, became the candidate to beat after television celebrity Kevin O'Leary dropped out of the race and threw his support behind the former foreign affairs minister.

Among the remaining contenders, Milton MP Lisa Raitt is hobbled by her inability to speak French; Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch has received little apparent traction by calling for loyalty tests for potential immigrants; every candidate has ganged up on Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong's proposed carbon tax; former immigration minister Chris Alexander has lit no fires.

Story continues below advertisement

John Ibbitson: Before Conservatives elect Maxime Bernier, they should consider this

That leaves Mr. O'Toole, MP for the Greater Toronto riding of Durham, and Mr. Scheer, MP for Regina-Qu'Appelle, as the most viable "Anyone But Bernier" candidates. Each has strong caucus support (34 MPs and senators for Mr. O'Toole; 32 for Mr. Scheer), and each has a solid résumé.

Mr. O'Toole, 44, served in the air force, then worked as a lawyer, before entering Parliament in 2012. As Veterans Affairs minister, he is credited with stabilizing that troubled file during the final months of Stephen Harper's government.

Mr. Scheer, at 37, is the youngest contender. He served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2015, which involves serving as chief administrator of the House and requires retaining the trust of MPs on both sides of the aisle. Nonetheless, Mr. O'Toole rebuked Mr. Scheer last week for abandoning the party "to hold receptions at the Kingsmere estate."

Mr. Scheer sloughed off the barb and claimed he is running neck-and-neck with Mr. Bernier. "My message to the other candidates is if they believe Maxime's policies are not going to resonate with enough voters to deliver us a majority government, then I'm inviting them to support me," or at the least "suggest to their supporters to put me down as a number two," he said in an interview.

Mr. Bernier's policies are indeed bold: withdrawing the federal government from any role in health care, dismantling the CBC and CRTC and ending tariff protection for dairy and poultry farmers, for starters.

But Mr. Scheer also has some eyebrow-raising proposals, such as withholding federal grants to universities that fail to protect freedom of speech on campus, entrenching property rights in the Constitution and offering tax relief for parents who send their children to private schools.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. O'Toole's platform is more mainstream: increased spending for defence and financial help for young workers. Another example: While Mr. Scheer would balance the budget in two years, Mr. O'Toole would balance the budget "responsibly."

He stands by his assertion that Mr. Scheer is not ready for the job. "Andrew's likeability is solid, but he has no experience," Mr. O'Toole told The Globe. For voters seeking an alternative to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, "we have to have someone who looks, feels and shows that he could be prime minister on Day One."

Mr. O'Toole believes he can win by being everyone's second choice. Mr. Scheer believes likewise. Both believe that Mr. Bernier's strongly libertarian views, coupled with questions of personal judgment (Mr. Bernier was bounced from cabinet for leaving sensitive documents at the apartment of a former girlfriend who had previous ties to organized crime) will limit his second-choice support. But both could simply split the vote, ensuring Mr. Bernier's victory.

The common complaint against all 13 remaining candidates is that they are bland no-names incapable of exciting voters. But "exciting" may not be what people are looking for two-and-a-half years from now. Mr. Trudeau's overwhelming priority going forward is to protect the Canadian economy from U.S. President Donald Trump, who is threatening to scrap the North American free-trade agreement if it is not renegotiated to his satisfaction.

Voters may hold the Liberal government accountable for any economic damage that results. A non-flashy, competent Conservative alternative might just fit the bill.

Right now, the race is Maxime Bernier's to lose. Andrew Scheer or Erin O'Toole could help him lose it, if each doesn't get in the other's way.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies