What did Andrew Scheer do in 2019?
Well, for a start he led the Conservative Party to be the most popular party in Canada:
- CPC: 6,240,000± votes / 34.34% of the popular vote;
- LPC: 6,019,000± votes / 33.12% of the popular vote;
- NDP: 2,904,000± votes / 15.98% of the popular vote;
- BQ: 1,387,000± votes / 7.63% of the popular vote; and
- All the others: 1,875,00± votes / 9.7% of the popular vote ~ that includes more that one million Green votes.
But, it’s what he didn’ do that matters to some Conservatives and to many pundits, some of whom do not have the best interests of the CPC at heart. He didn’t parlay the most votes into the most seats. The Liberals had a much more efficient vote: they won 157 seats, 46.5% of the total, with only 33% of the popular vote. They won more seats by smaller margins; the Conservatives won fewer seats but, very often, by large margins.
(Parenthetically, this is most decidedly NOT an argument for proportional representation (PR) ~ I remain firmly convinced that our current, first-past-the-post (FPTP) system works well for Canada. If we are going to change our electoral system I would favour only a “two-round run-off” system, as is used in France and about 40 other countries. I actually rather like the idea that voters in many (sometimes in most) ridings must vote twice: the first vote, many say, is with the heart, people vote, mainly, for the candidate or party they really want, while the second, a week later, which has only the top two candidates from which to choose, is with the head, people vote for the candidate who seems more likely to support the issues that matter most to them.)
Vote inefficiency is not wholly Andrew Scheer’s fault except for the fact that in many suburban ridings in Ontario, especially, and in Quebec, too, where about ½ of all Canadians live the Liberals did win, over Conservatives, sometimes by fairly narrow margins. That region is, as you can see, confined to Southern Ontario, Ottawa is about its Northernmost point and, mainly (once you are outside of Metropolitan Montreal) to the South shore of the St Lawrence River in Québec. A lot of those seats are in urban centres but many, enough to make a HUGE difference are in suburban ridings around Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton and London. The Liberals won most of them. The Conservatives needed to win in those suburbs and in the suburbs around Vancouver, too. Some of the Liberal success in the suburbs around the big cities was, almost without a doubt, because many, many Canadians were persuaded ~ by a well organized, well funded, media-driven campaign which suggested that Andrew Scheer is more socially conservative than is the Canadian suburban mainstream. The campaign hinted that if he was prejudiced against any-one identifiable group then he might be intolerant of all others, too. It is true that many new Canadians live in suburbs and many of those new Canadians are more conservative than many “old stock” Canadians, but being conservative does not being intolerant.
The gay pride parade issue was well played by the Liberals and Mr Scheer botched it, badly, on a very personal level. Quite frankly a national political leader’s personal, moral views don’t matter ~ most Canadians don’t care ~ but a leader must stand with ALL of his or her constituents, especially when minorities are involved. Andrew Scheer should have, willingly, happily gone to several gay pride parades ~ sometimes, as happened to Jason Kenney in Edmonton, gay pride organizers may not allow Conservatives to participate. Then, as Mr Kenney demonstrated, the correct (and politically advantageous) course of action is to host one’s own event just before to which gays are invited. Mr Kenney showed great political judgement and good manners; Mr Scheer, in his actions and comments, demonstrated neither. If he is going to stay on as leader then, it seems to me that he has no choice but to do a complete and personally difficult and embarrassing about-turn. He needs to do that soon, it is an absolute must that he does it before April and that he does it in the fullest possible glare of publicity with gay and gay supporting Conservative supporters (and I suspect that he has enough of both to assemble a good crowd) surrounding him. It will be a major personal climb down but it can be turned into a political winner for him, especially if, even after his “about turn” the dominant progressives in the gay pride movement refuse to accept his participation thus showing that they are intolerant while he is not.
The key to victory is, as I and others have said, several times, is found in the suburbs around, especially, Toronto, Vancouver, Hamilton and Ottawa. They are not especially progressive, not, at least, as the urban core ridings, and some are even quite socially conservative about some matters, but they worry about intolerance ~ if, as the Liberals and their political allies did, one can paint a political leader as being intolerant about one thing it is easy to hint that (s)he will be intolerant about other things (including, for example, immigration) and those might be things that some voters take more seriously than gay rights. Tolerance is a litmus test … and it’s not a bad one.
There is not, in my opinion, a Conservative civil war going on as some (biased) commentators, including some Conservatives, would have us believe. There are legitimate questions about how Andrew Scheer and his campaign team handled some issues ~ especially how they handled the gay rights controversy. Did it so irreparable damage to Mr Scheer? Should he resign?
I did not support Mr Scheer in 2016. If there is to be a leadership contest in 2020 I think I would prefer someone other than Mr Scheer, perhaps someone like: