Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will try to convince his caucus on Wednesday afternoon to rally behind his leadership, as Tory MPs weigh whether to give themselves the power to expel Mr. Scheer.
Conservative MPs and senators are gathered behind closed doors in Ottawa this afternoon to debrief on a disappointing election result, hear what Mr. Scheer plans to change and vote on whether to give caucus more power over the leader’s future.
Since the election, Conservatives have privately and publicly raised concerns about Mr. Scheer’s leadership, and whether he should stay on. Mr. Scheer told reporters after the election that he planned to stay at the helm and lead the party into the next election.
He will likely hear an earful from MPs and senators, who sounded off on Mr. Scheer’s senior staff and his own leadership heading into the meeting.
“Throughout the campaign, my constituents expressed concern about our leader; they continue to communicate with my office in that manner," Alberta MP Ron Liepert told reporters Wednesday. He added that he’s pleased to see Mr. Scheer is going on a listening tour across the country, saying “we’ll see what happens."
“We should have done better,” Mr. Liepert said about the federal election campaign.
Mr. Scheer will face a leadership vote at the party’s April convention in Toronto, but his caucus could give itself the power to oust him, without consulting grassroot members, at this afternoon’s vote.
After each general election, the Reform Act requires all party caucuses to vote on whether to give themselves the power to fire their leader. After the 2015 election, Conservatives voted against adopting that option, but sources granted confidentiality to speak about internal party matters say MPs are considering adding it to their tool box.
The caucus includes MPs and senators, but only MPs will be allowed to vote on the issue.
Ontario MP Peter Kent said he supports Mr. Scheer and doesn’t know that any MPs will vote to give themselves the power to expel their leader. However, several MPs heading into the meeting refused to tell reporters how they will vote on the matter or said they haven’t yet decided.
“I was disappointed in the results in Ontario, losing people like Lisa Raitt and others," Ontario MP Erin O’Toole said. He is one of the MPs who said he will make a game-time decision on whether to vote in favour of giving caucus the power to expel their leader.
“I want to hear exactly the plan to make sure we’re competitive in the 905 [area code in the Greater Toronto area] and did we learn the lessons from the campaign,” Mr. O’Toole said.
Tuesday, MP Mark Strahl, a member of Mr. Scheer’s inner circle, urged MPs to vote against giving themselves the power to expel their leader, saying members don’t want to see an “elite group” of MPs choose whether the Conservative Party’s leader stays on.
Quebec MP Gérard Deltell echoed that sentiment.
“I will not support that kind of stuff because as far as I’m concerned, the leader got his authority by the members of the party and not the members of Parliament," Mr. Deltell told reporters.
He wouldn’t weigh in on the impact that the Conservative Leader’s views on abortion and same-sex marriage had on the party’s election result, saying that was something for the caucs to discuss.
Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen said she believes the grassroots members should decide if Mr. Scheer continues as leader. When asked if she would vote in favour of giving the caucus power to expel him, Ms. Bergen said she believes “very strongly in grassroots deciding that and so I will be voting that grassroots decide who the leader is.”
Calgary MP Michelle Rempel echoed Ms. Bergen, saying the decision should be left to Conservative Party members.
“In that room today we’re missing representation from entire swaths of the country, so I think it’s very important for the membership to have a voice and that’s why our party’s governance document, which was voted on by our membership at its founding, has a mechanism for a leadership review,” Ms. Rempel said.
Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu said Mr Scheer should stay, but his team shouldn’t.
“The question is whether Mr. Scheer can be better in the next campaign. My answer is yes. Can he be better with the team that he had in the war room? My answer is no,” Mr. Boisvenu said.
He went on to say Mr. Scheer needed a nationalist message from the start: “We missed the boat.”
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