Jill Scheer says she has not given a lot of thought about her role in the upcoming federal election – or what will happen next for her family of seven.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s wife and partner of nearly 20 years has other things on her mind: scrambling to get her kids out the door every morning, chasing a bouncing three-year-old around, and trying to sneak in a quick beer with Mr. Scheer when she can.
But some of her routine is about to change. Ms. Scheer will appear for the first time in the national spotlight in the coming months as her husband crisscrosses the country in hopes of becoming the next prime minister.
Although she is sitting on a large sectional sofa in a blue dress, high-heels and a long gold necklace with matching earrings, Ms. Scheer says that she spends most of her time in yoga pants. As she describes life in Stornoway – the official residence for the opposition party – three-year-old Mary bounces beside her, hugging and kissing her mom. The rest of the Scheer children – Thomas, 13, Grace, 11, Madeline, 10, and Henry 7, are at school.
Ms. Scheer, 39, grew up in Regina and obtained a degree in elementary education from the University of Regina. Her father was a child psychologist and her mother stayed at home to raise her four children. They talked about politics “a little bit” as a family, but “mostly we just talked about football.” Ms. Scheer’s brother Jon Ryan played professionally in the NFL and CFL.
Ms. Scheer said her own family has adjusted well to the move from Regina to Ottawa, simply moving their large family from one house to another. The morning, she said, is a “gong show” and the end of day is also chaotic.
“Kids looking for socks, breakfast flying, sometimes if we don’t pack lunches the night before, we’re trying to pack lunches … someone will have forgotten to do their homework. Grace wears contacts but she can’t put them in herself, so I do her contacts.”
In the evening Mr. Scheer watches a “special show” with the kids – The Simpsons – quickly adding that he watches it in advance to make sure it’s appropriate.
She knows the chaos will increase in the coming months, with Mr. Scheer spending more time on the road, with she, and at times the kids, joining him. But they have yet to decide what her role will be on the campaign trail.
“We have to figure out all the dynamics and how that’s all going to work but I hope to be as involved as much as I’m needed and as much as I can manage with the kids,” she said.
“Honestly, I haven’t given it a ton of thought yet. I love – it sounds cheesy – but I love Canada. I love from the East to the West and how different it is, and to be able to bring the kids along on parts of that, I feel like that will be really interesting for them and nice to spend time as a family.”
Ms. Scheer said she hasn’t had much experience with public speaking, but joked that maybe she would join Toastmasters to practice. And she hasn’t thought too much about having a presence on social media, either. “Do you think people would follow me as Andrew’s wife?” she asked.
But Ms. Scheer also says that while she knew Mr. Scheer was interested in politics when they started dating, she wasn’t convinced that meant he would one day be running to lead the country.
“It didn’t come as a huge surprise to me, right after we got married that he wanted to run, but I just thought, oh, this is his little side thing that he’s going to give a try and then he’ll go back to selling insurance and yeah ... not that I didn’t believe in him – just that it seemed like a wild dream."