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Ottawa, Dec. 12: Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer announces that he is stepping down in the House of Commons.

Blair Gable/Reuters

Last October, Andrew Scheer believed he had a shot at being prime minister of Canada. By December, he announced his exit from political life, as a disappointing election result and internal controversies about his spending decisions frayed the party. Now, Conservatives are getting set to choose a new leader next June. Here’s a primer on how Mr. Scheer’s leadership came to an end, and what happens next.


What happened on election night

In last fall’s federal election, Conservatives hoped that Andrew Scheer, the bland Saskatchewanian everyman they chose as leader two years earlier, would lead them to victory against Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. While the party did make some gains, such as wiping out the Liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan, it fell short of expectations. The Conservatives won 121 seats, up from 95 at dissolution, but the Liberals had a strong minority and retained strategically important Ontario seats the Conservatives had tried to flip. And in the House, Mr. Scheer had few options to challenge Mr. Trudeau directly: Any scenario for toppling the government involves the help of unlikely allies, the NDP or Bloc Québécois.

ELECTION RESULTS 2015 VS. 2019

2015 FEDERAL

ELECTION RESULTS

SEATS WON

184

LIB

99

CON

44

NDP

10

BLOC

1

GREEN

2019 FEDERAL

ELECTION RESULTS

As of 6:30 a.m. ET

SEATS WON

157

LIB

121

CON

32

BLOC

24

NDP

3

GREEN

1

OTHERS

ELECTION RESULTS 2015 VS. 2019

2015 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

SEATS WON

184

LIB

99

CON

44

NDP

10

BLOC

1

GREEN

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

As of 6:30 a.m. ET

SEATS WON

157

LIB

121

CON

32

BLOC

24

NDP

3

GREEN

1

OTHERS

ELECTION RESULTS 2015 VS. 2019

SEATS WON

2015 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

184

LIB

99

CON

44

NDP

10

BLOC

1

GREEN

SEATS WON

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION RESULTS

As of 6:30 a.m. ET

157

LIB

121

CON

32

BLOC

24

NDP

3

GREEN

1

OTHERS

SCENARIOS IN CONFIDENCE VOTE

LIB

CON

BQ

170 seats

for majority

NDP

GRN

216

LIB + BQ + NDP + GRN

213

LIB + BQ + NDP

189

LIB + BQ

181

LIB + NDP

180

CON + NDP + BQ + GRN

177

CON + NDP + BQ

153

CON + BQ

145

CON + NDP

SCENARIOS IN CONFIDENCE VOTE

LIB

CON

BQ

170 seats

for majority

NDP

GRN

216

LIB + BQ + NDP + GRN

213

LIB + BQ + NDP

189

LIB + BQ

181

LIB + NDP

180

CON + NDP + BQ + GRN

177

CON + NDP + BQ

153

CON + BQ

145

CON + NDP

SCENARIOS IN CONFIDENCE VOTE

170 seats

for majority

LIB

CON

BQ

NDP

GRN

216

LIB + BQ + NDP + GRN

213

LIB + BQ + NDP

189

LIB + BQ

181

LIB + NDP

180

CON + NDP + BQ + GRN

177

CON + NDP + BQ

153

CON + BQ

145

CON + NDP


What happened after election night

In the House, which returned in early December, Mr. Scheer doubled down on past criticisms of Mr. Trudeau’s fitness to govern and said the Conservatives would be there to hold him to account. But within the party, talk of replacing Mr. Scheer (which had begun in some circles even before election day) started spilling out into the open. Candidates and former Conservative aides blamed their defeat on Mr. Scheer’s views on abortion and LGBTQ rights; social conservative groups accused him of not going far enough to champion those beliefs; and Quebec candidates and organizers said he had lost the moral authority to lead.

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Some in the anti-Scheer faction mobilized in support of former Harper cabinet minister Peter MacKay as the new leader, though in the fall he denied being a part of those efforts. A group called Conservative Victory, led by lobbyist Kory Teneycke and Jeff Ballingall of the right-wing website Ontario Proud, launched a campaign to press Mr. Scheer to step down.


Scheer’s exit and the tuition-fees question

Oct. 15, 2019: Mr. Scheer, his wife, Jill, and their children Henry, Maddie, Grace and Thomas stand onstage after a campaign speech in La Prairie, Que. The Scheers have a fifth child, Mary, not pictured.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP

The exact timeline of events leading up to Mr. Scheer’s Dec. 12 resignation is still unclear.

It took place while former cabinet minister John Baird was conducting a review of the party’s election performance, whose findings Mr. Baird says have not yet been submitted.

But it also came after discussions within the party about how the Conservative Fund, a party war chest that raises money for elections and the leader’s travel and general expenses, also paid tuition fees for four of Mr. Scheer’s five children to attend private Catholic schools in Ottawa.

Dustin van Vugt, shown at the Conservatives' 2016 convention.

Facebook

Dustin van Vugt, then the party’s executive director, said he and Mr. Scheer agreed soon after his leadership election that the fund would cover a “differential in schooling costs” between what Mr. Scheer was paying in Regina and Ottawa. But sources on the board overseeing the fund told The Globe they would not have approved money for that purpose; that they had just become aware of the matter and were looking into it just before Mr. Scheer quit; and that board members didn’t see the timing of Mr. Scheer’s exit as a coincidence.

Mr. van Vugt was fired on Dec. 13 by the Conservative Fund’s directors. Another source close to a member of the fund’s board, Stephen Harper, told The Globe that Mr. Harper and others had dismissed Mr. van Vugt for fear of backlash from donors. (The Globe did not identify any of these sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly about internal Conservative matters.) Party fundraiser Jaime Gerard was chosen as acting executive director just before Christmas.


When is a new leader chosen, and how?

The official leadership race kicked off on Jan. 13, laying out rules for who can run and a timetable leading up to a leadership convention on June 27. Candidates need to meet specific criteria by Feb. 27: Paying a $25,000 fee, and gathering 1,000 member signatures from 30 different ridings in seven provinces or territories. By March 25, candidates need to pay $300,000 and have 3,000 signatures to get their names on the ballot. New party members have until April 17 to sign up and be eligible to vote in the final convention.

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More reading

Commentary

Watch: John Ibbitson says Scheer's exit opens the door for a new leader to challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Globe and Mail

Andrew Coyne: Scheer’s departure alone won’t fix the Conservatives’ long-standing problems

Robyn Urback: Andrew Scheer is boiled celery, and it’s hard to get excited about boiled celery

Konrad Yakabuski: Andrew Scheer can choose to go out on a high note

A Conservative who’s who

2019 election profile: Andrew Scheer, a work in progress

Investigation: How Ontario Proud and third-party advertisers took aim at the federal election

Investigation: The heads of lobbying firms in Doug Ford’s inner circle


Compiled by Globe staff

With reports from Robert Fife, Marieke Walsh, Laura Stone and The Canadian Press

Related topics

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