Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer participates in an interview reflecting on the 2019 Federal election, in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer participates in an interview reflecting on the 2019 Federal election, in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Possible to hold socially conservative views and be prime minister: Scheer

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he knows his future is not guaranteed

Andrew Scheer remains convinced that a prime minister can hold conservative views on divisive issues like same-sex marriage and abortion and still be trusted by Canadians not to impose them on the country.

But the Conservative leader also knows that if those views prove to be the reason he failed Monday to convince voters otherwise, they could cost him his job.

In an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, Scheer said a wide-ranging analysis is now underway into what worked and what didn’t for his party in an election that kept them relegated to Opposition status despite the myriad scandals that have plagued Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

“I believe you can have both of those positions: you can have a personal view and you can acknowledge that in Canada, the prime minister does not impose a particular viewpoint on Canadians,” he said of his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

In other words, while it’s no secret where he stands, his personal opinions should be beside the point.

“I believe that Canadians understand that any number of people can have a different point of view on these issues. What’s important to them is to know whether a prime minister will make changes or seek to make changes,” he said.

“And my assurances to Canadians was that as prime minister, these types of debates would not be re-opened.”

Still, the Conservative campaign was badly bruised over the course of the 40-day campaign for failing to mount a robust rebuttal whenever Scheer’s rivals sought to exploit his deeply held convictions.

ALSO READ: Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP and Bloc hold cards close

The pummelling from other party leaders, pundits and the media went on for a week before Scheer plainly stated his pro-life perspective. His position on gay marriage remains murky: it has evolved since 2005, when he gave a speech in the House of Commons that the Liberals exploited before the campaign to great effect, but precisely how remains unclear.

Those criticisms are now being funnelled back to Scheer as the internal campaign post-mortem continues. But there’s an external one as well — the Conservative membership will gather in April to decide whether he should stay on as leader.

Scheer said he knows his future is not guaranteed.

He expected to be held accountable, he said, and he’s glad the tough questions are being asked by both Conservative MPs and the party’s grassroots. He said he will point to the bright lights: an increase in seats and a historic win in terms off the popular vote.

“My message to them will be: we have made improvements, we have made gains. It is not satisfactory, we need to do better, but that I and my team, we are focused on finding out what worked and what didn’t, and how to improve next time. We are going to be looking at all aspects of this.”

Scheer’s social conservativism was a perpetual line of attack from the Liberals during the campaign, a race whose tone and negativity Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said this week he regrets.

Scheer dismissed Trudeau’s comments as insincere.

The Tories had launched negative attacks of their own on Trudeau, including circulating unfounded innuendo about Trudeau’s time as a teacher, and making up a claim that the Liberals and NDP were conspiring to hike the GST in order to finance their promises.

Those attacks weren’t offside, Scheer insisted, but will nonetheless be examined as part of the party’s internal review.

“Our campaign ended up with results that we are not satisfied with,” he said.

“So we’re going to be going back and taking a look at what did resonate and what didn’t, but at the same time I think it’s appropriate to point out the false statements that another leader is making.”

Scheer said he has spoken since Monday with former prime minister Stephen Harper, who has been talking with many senior Conservatives this week for a debriefing. The party is framing the results as akin to Harper’s first election as Conservative leader in 2004, when he too reduced the Liberal government to a minority.

Harper would go on to win his own minority in 2006, clinching a majority five years later.

As for how long the Liberals will hold on to power, Scheer said he wants to hear a throne speech that lays out a plan to get natural resources to market, and an acknowledgment that deficit spending needs to get under control.

In other words, he said, the fate of the government lies with Trudeau himself.

“We’ll see what he comes forward with,” Scheer said, citing concerns the Tories have had with the way Trudeau acted in the last Parliament, including shutting down inquiries into the SNC Lavalin affair.

“We’ll see what type of attitude he has towards the work that Parliament can do.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wells filmmaker James Douglas will be directing a feature length Christmas Movie, set to film in Prince George in March. (Baker Street Productions)
Wells director set to lead Christmas film shoot

James Douglas will be the man in charge in Prince George from March 1 - 13

Registered Nurse, Teresa Friesen immunizes Dunrovin resident, Richard Brophy. (Submitted Photo)
Dunrovin residents first to receive vaccine in Quesnel

91 residents in the seniors’ home were given the first dose of their vaccine

The Quesnel Regional Airport hasn’t hosted passenger flights since Central Mountain Air stopped flying into the city in April of 2020 due to a COVID-19 downturn. File Photo
Council trying to attract airlines back to Quesnel

Staff to investigate temporarily waiving landing fees at Quesnel Airport

The KIJHL’s Kamloops Storm players celebrate on the ice at West Fraser Centre after a goal during one of their games in Quesnel in December 2017. Efforts to bring a KIJHL team to Quesnel stalled in 2018 after the league’s executive voted 16-3 against expansion. (Tracey Roberts Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Kangaroos fighting GMHL junior expasion into Quesnel

The Senior AA team sent a letter asking council to not support the non-sanctioned league’s efforts

Newly elected Nazko Chief Leah Stump penned a letter explaining the scope of the project. (Photo submitted)
Nazko seeks approval to build housing for members facing lengthy medical visits in Quesnel

The First Nation is looking to build nine units in West Quesnel to help members staying in the city

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read