Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters is speaking out in defence of her long-time friend, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, as he attempts to quash calls for his resignation.
Mr. Scheer’s team shared a video of Ms. Batters on social media on the weekend in which the senator urged the Conservative movement to back the leader, who has come under fire in recent days by party members.
“Do we need to make changes? Absolutely," Ms. Batters said. “We’ve already started to do that. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. but only if we stay united under Andrew Scheer’s leadership.”
Ms. Batters also pointed to criticism faced by then-leader Stephen Harper in 2004 after he reduced Paul Martin’s “supposed juggernaut" to a minority, adding that some even called on Mr. Harper to resign.
“Instead, he assessed the situation, he made some big changes and he refocused our party," she said. “Then, only 18 months later, we formed a government that would last for the next 10 years.”
In October, the Conservatives reduced Justin Trudeau to a minority government and won the popular vote, she added.
Mr. Scheer is in the midst of making his personal case to caucus and party members that he should stay on.
Asked on Sunday in Toronto if Mr. Scheer deserves to stay on as leader until the April leadership review, three conservative premiers – Doug Ford from Ontario; Scott Moe from Saskatchewan; and Blaine Higgs of New Brunswick – said it’s up to the membership to decide.
Mr. Scheer will also be in Toronto on Monday as part of a continuing campaign-review tour designed to allow him to thank volunteers, listen to grassroots members of the party and get feedback from campaign teams.
In Calgary on Friday at the Alberta United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting, Mr. Scheer took aim at the recent criticism he’s faced, saying he’s “entirely uninterested in what the talking heads, the naysayers and the people who make their money by stirring up division in our party have to say.”
His comments came after prominent Conservatives set up a non-profit organization, called Conservative Victory, to campaign for his removal.
Mr. Scheer will face a mandatory leadership review at the party’s convention in April.
Tim Powers, a long-time Conservative strategist, told The Globe and Mail on Sunday he has spoken with many Tory supporters in different parts of the country who are “really upset” with Mr. Scheer, adding it should not be shrugged off as infighting.
“People I’ve met who are Conservative activists or Conservative supporters … have all said ‘We’re not happy with him; he’s got to go,'” Mr. Powers said.
Mr. Scheer should properly reflect on what’s best for the Conservative Party and if he does, he will likely recognize he “should probably step aside," he added.
Mr. Powers said the situation for Mr. Scheer worsened this weekend when newly appointed deputy leader Leona Alleslev was asked on CBC’s The House if she had an issue with Mr. Scheer not attending Pride parades.
“Have we asked anybody if they’ve marched in a St. Patrick’s Day parade?” Ms. Alleslev responded to the interviewer.
Ms. Alleslev, a former Liberal MP who crossed the floor to the Conservatives in the last Parliament, apologized on Saturday for her comments saying Pride parades are "an important symbol in the fight for LGBTQ rights.”
With a report from Laura Stone
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