Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is facing pressure to make substantive changes to his office after an election that Tories say was winnable.
Conservative sources said MPs have been privately discussing the need for Mr. Scheer to reorganize his top personnel, including removing his chief of staff, Marc-André Leclerc. The Globe and Mail is keeping the sources’ names confidential because they were not authorized to speak openly about internal party matters.
Mr. Leclerc was a key factor in Mr. Scheer’s leadership victory in 2017, attracting new members to support the eventual winner, particularly from rural Quebec. Mr. Leclerc was expected to be able to help the party build its base in Quebec. Instead, it lost two MPs.
Party spokesman Simon Jefferies said “Marc-André Leclerc is Mr. Scheer’s chief of staff” and would not comment on his future.
Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus, who was re-elected in the Quebec City area, said that in his view, Mr. Leclerc “did a good job and there is more than one factor that must be considered in the analysis of the campaign.”
The push to make staffing changes comes as questions continue to mount about Mr. Scheer’s future at the party’s helm. Conservatives believe they could have won last week’s election.
On Wednesday, former Conservative cabinet minister Peter MacKay compared the Conservative Leader’s election result to "having a breakaway on an open net and missing.”
Mr. MacKay said Mr. Scheer lost because he failed to deal with questions about his socially conservative views on abortion and same-sex marriage, which he said hung around the leader’s neck “like a stinking albatross.”
Hours later, he tried to walk back the criticism, suggesting it wasn’t meant to be a personal attack but rather a comment on the party’s “shortcomings.”
Conservative MP Michael Cooper disputed Mr. MacKay’s conclusion that the election should have been an easy win.
“It wasn’t a breakaway, it was a winnable election,” Mr. Cooper told The Globe on Thursday.
He said he supports Mr. Scheer, but wouldn’t weigh in on whether he should stay on as leader. He noted that there is a leadership review in place that will culminate with party members voting on Mr. Scheer’s leadership in April.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney did not directly criticize Mr. MacKay for the comments directed at the federal Conservative Leader. But Mr. Kenney, who supports Mr. Scheer’s leadership, said it’s important for Conservatives to stand united.
“I think it is a mistake for parties to go into turmoil after an election disappointment. That reflects immaturity as a party that some historically have called the Tory disease. I think we need stability,” he said.
Mr. Kenney said Mr. Scheer does need to embark upon a “serious retrospection to learn lessons from the campaign” and he expects that will happen.
Conservative MP James Bezan said Mr. MacKay’s comments were not helpful, but that the former MP is “feeling the same frustrations as a lot of us about the results of the election.” Mr. Bezan said he supports Mr. Scheer and he was proud of the party’s platform, but that it has to work to better connect with urban voters.
MP Pat Kelly said the Conservative Party has to be prepared to look “very hard at what happened” and be aware of the fact that the party did earn more votes than other parties but failed to form government. He said his constituents are “desperate” for a new government and that changes have to be made.
While Mr. Kelly declined to comment on individual staff members, he said that “No matter what happens, we certainly can’t expect to rerun exactly the same process and get a different result.”
When asked if he supports Mr. Scheer continuing as party leader, he said he has not “even talked to anybody outside of Alberta yet.”
“We’re going to have a caucus meeting next week and we have a responsibility … we were all just re-elected to be a government in waiting including our leader, Andrew,” he said.
With reports from Daniel Leblanc and Robert Fife.