If you stopped paying attention to the Conservative party leadership race once Kevin O’Leary dropped out (thank you!), you may not have heard how the end of that went down this past Saturday. Things got a little crazy actually (well, as crazy as Conservatives get). Basically, Andrew Scheer came from behind to win over the front-runner Maxime ‘Mad Max’ Bernier in his own riding district. Bernier had been leading the pack of 13 candidates since O’Leary dropped out and the results were kind of Canada’s version of a TV political drama plot twist. It’s no Trump-Hillary, but it was pretty cool.
So what do we need to know about this guy who could be our new PM some day? What’s going to change? Don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered when it comes to all things Andrew Scheer.
First things first: who is this guy? At 38, Andrew Scheer is the youngest federal leadership candidate in Canadian history, but it’s not the first time he’s been the youngest to do something in Canadian politics. He was also the youngest Speaker of the House of Commons when he served from 2011 to 2015. He’s been in politics almost his entire life, since his election as an MP in Regina in 2004.
The father of five grew up in Ottawa but has spent his entire political career living in and representing Regina. After Stephen Harper stepped down in 2015, he considered offering himself up as the interim leader but decided against it because it would mean he couldn’t run for the permanent position.
Also, fun fact: Scheer’s brother-in-law is Jon Ryan, punter for the Seattle Seahawks.
Scheer ran on a fiscally conservative platform. That is, making things more affordable for the average tax-payer, offering tax exemptions to those who need them and keeping a balanced budget. He promised to give tax exemptions to parents on Employment Insurance and those paying for independent schools, open the airline industry to foreign competition (lower those ticket prices) and have the budget balanced within two years. Basically, he promises to spend our money wisely. That’s always nice.
A Social Conservative
Scheer is also socially conservative, meaning that he falls in line with the Conservative personal values. He is pro-life and against same-sex marriage, but as per the Conservative party’s official stance, he will not be reopening any debates on either of those two things. The party as a whole has decided that the country has come past arguing over those deeply controversial issues, so don’t panic.
A new and interesting campaign promise is to pull funding from universities that don’t respect freedom of speech. While that may seem like a liberal move, the motive behind this promise is more about universities which may try to prevent conservative expressions of speech in our current social climate, like in the Ann Coulter and Berkeley dispute in the U.S.
A conservative conservative
Scheer has been called ‘Stephen Harper 2.0 but with a smile.’ What they mean by that is that he’ll probably stay pretty close to the party line and not stray too far from traditional Conservative politics. Unlike Bernier who was a separatist in the ’90s, has a few scandals under his belt and has radical ideas for the Conservative party, Scheer is not likely to try to rock the boat.
He’s a safe choice for Conservatives but that might be enough. Scheer seems to be all the things Conservatives liked about Stephen Harper–his budget, his policies–without all the things nobody liked about Harper–his stiffness, his awkwardness, his refusal to answer more questions than he wanted to. It’s too early to tell exactly who this guy will be in his position as the Official Opposition leader and subsequently, a candidate for Prime Minister, but unlike in the U.S., we won’t have to wait long to find out.
First day working for Canadians in this historic office. It’s an honour that our Party members have placed their trust in me. pic.twitter.com/rXBI1sa59w
— Andrew Scheer (@andrewscheer) May 29, 2017