Well, the Conservative Party of Canada has a new leader, thanks in no small part to cows.
His name is Andrew Scheer. Let’s just let the WHO? echo through this space for a moment before we continue.
Scheer’s name was not one that came up a lot during the course of the leadership campaign, although he is by all accounts a well-liked, able politician.
Mr. Scheer is one of the longest serving MPs in Parliament, having first been elected in Regina in 2004. He was the youngest ever Speaker of the House under Stephen Harper, taking up the post at the age of 32. That’s pretty impressive for a guy most of us have never heard of. To be fair, not many Canadian could name the Speaker of House now or then. The Speaker holds a lot of power in the House, and those who sit certainly know who he or she is, but it is a fairly obscure position to the average joe.
And when you look at the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, the phrase average joe does come to mind.
The Beaverton put out a pretty funny piece on Scheer’s election, entitled “Stock photo of white guy wins Conservative leadership race. And while at thebeaverton.com, don’t miss “At least I beat the brown guy” by Kelly Leitch.
After a campaign featuring the reality TV, Trump-lite element (Kevin O’Leary) and the wildly provocative (Kelly Leitch), it was still assumed by most that the winner would be supposed front runner Maxime Bernier of Quebec. Even O’Leary endorsed him as the best choice when he bowed out. But, proving that they really didn’t want to listen to O’Leary at all, the Conservative party faithful eventually opted for Scheer, though it took 13 ballots to get there.
Scheer won over Bernier 50.95 per cent to 49.05 per cent. That’s not a ringing endorsement of the new leader and he is going to have some work to do to get party members behind him.
What also assisted his push over the top was support from the well-organized dairy farmers lobby. Here’s where the cows come in. Scheer’s main opponent Bernier had campaigned on getting rid of the supply management quota system, which the lobby vigorously opposed, so they threw their hefty bovine weight behind Scheer. Who knew cows were that active politically?
Scheer is described as a social conservative, and it was support from like minded social conservative candidates, as well as cows, that assisted his narrow victory.
However, while he personally opposes abortion and same sex marriage, he has said he won’t be re-opening the debate on either. Which is a smart move unless you think alienating a huge chunk of the population before your campaign even starts is a good idea. Frankly, those who feel as he does on social issues will most likely vote for him anyway, while those appalled at opening those cans of worms again would punish him. So probably a wise choice to leave them alone.
In any event, it’s going to take some time to get the Conservative caucus on board. In a crowded field, everyone had a favourite candidate and now all will be required to align behind the new leader. There’s a little time but 2019 is looming on the horizon. And while he needs to secure loyalty from his caucus, Scheer also needs to get his mug out in front of Canadian voters.Two years is not a very long time to become a household name. And unless something changes in the next two years, cows can’t vote.
Perhaps Scheer will be making some promises for electoral reform