This past week, my friend Andrew Scheer made (what was likely) his final appearance in Parliament as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.
The fact that the House is sitting at all this summer is a testament to Scheer’s abilities as leader – abilities that, sadly, few, truly, got to see.
I had the privilege of seeing Andrew at work firsthand. Despite near constant adversity from the press, he led our party with dignity, and always with a smile on his face.
Andrew loves Canada, cares deeply about Canadians, and was motivated by a deep desire to ensure that Canada would be even better for future generations. Andrew has great respect for the institution of Parliament.
Andrew was first elected in 2004. In 2011 he became the youngest Speaker of the House in Canadian history.
I was happy to be among the first to support Andrew in his leadership bid. He was elected leader in 2017 and for three years he worked tirelessly to build up and hold together the big, often unwieldy, tent that is the Conservative Party of Canada.
Like so many Canadians, I was disappointed that we were unable to win government last fall. Many felt Scheer had blown a golden opportunity. While the election was winnable, I don’t think that’s an entirely fair assessment.
Many pundits chalked up the loss to Andrew’s inability to articulate his position on social issues.
While mistakes were made, I think it was just as much the media’s venom towards social conservative values that led to his defeat.
Even in defeat, Andrew was gracious, and positive about the fact that we had won the popular vote – by 230,000 – and that we would form that strongest opposition in Canadian history.
When he decided to step down, I was deeply disappointed, but being a party leader is all encompassing, and Andrew no longer felt able to give it 100% of his energy and attention. My respect for him only grew when I learned he wanted to put his family first.
In recent months, Andrew has effectively led the opposition, both in holding the Liberals accountable for their scandals – more than a full-time job – and working to fix the often porous COVID-19 programs the government brought forward, to ensure they met the needs of all Canadians.
I believed in 2017 that Andrew Scheer was the right man for the job. I still believe that today.
Like all Conservatives, I am eager to see who our next leader will be. Whoever it is, I wish that person well and will do what I can to help them succeed in forming the next Government of Canada. Andrew Scheer will do the same – though I wouldn’t be surprised if, someday, in the future, he won’t still play that role himself.