Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is naming his shadow cabinet, including his predecessor Andrew Scheer as the party’s infrastructure critic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is naming his shadow cabinet, including his predecessor Andrew Scheer as the party’s infrastructure critic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Scheer remains on Conservatives’ front bench as party readies for Parliament

O’Toole didn’t have a long list of MPs who had challenged him for leadership to try and place on the front benches

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole unveiled Tuesday the list of who will sit on the Opposition front benches, ahead of the party’s first caucus meeting since he won the leadership race last month.

Wednesday’s gathering comes two weeks before the return of the House of Commons and the minority Liberal government’s throne speech laying out its priorities for the COVID-19 recovery in Canada.

O’Toole said Tuesday his own party’s plans won’t be far behind.

“In the coming weeks, we will be presenting a plan to put hardworking Canadians first, lead our nation out of this crisis and rebuild our great country,” he said in a statement.

In choosing those who will serve as critics for the Liberal government ministries, O’Toole picked a mix of loyal supporters, some who backed his rivals and several key players in the party who had remained entirely neutral in the leadership race.

Among them: his predecessor Andrew Scheer, who will serve as infrastructure critic; Ontario’s Pierre Poilievre, who remains as finance critic; and Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who will take on the health portfolio.

Ontario MP Michael Chong becomes the Conservatives’ critic for foreign affairs, considered one of the most high-profile portfolios.

That was the portfolio O’Toole himself was granted in 2017 after he lost the leadership race that year to Scheer.

Unlike Scheer, however, O’Toole didn’t have a long list of MPs who had challenged him for leadership to try and place on the front benches. There were only three other contenders, including only one other MP — Ontario’s Derek Sloan.

Sloan’s campaign had been primarily focused on winning support among social conservatives, though he secured no endorsements from MPs from that cohort of the party during the race.

A controversy over remarks he made about the country’s chief public health officer nearly saw him kicked out of caucus, and he ultimately finished last in the leadership contest.

He didn’t get a critic’s job.

But, O’Toole did acknowledge the supporters of his other rivals.

Two MPs who backed Leslyn Lewis, the Toronto lawyer who ran with the support of many social conservatives and finished in a strong third place, were given critic roles. Richard Bragdon, a New Brunswick MP who backed her bid will serve as the critic for fisheries, while Rosemarie Falk from Saskatchewan will be the critic for seniors.

Lewis herself has said she will run in the next election for the Conservatives.

ALSO READ: After MP’s offensive tweet, O’Toole says Tories will counter anti-Semitism

Several of those who backed Peter MacKay for leadership were given critics jobs, including some who had supported O’Toole in 2017 but switched sides this time around.

They include James Bezan, who O’Toole has left in place as defence critic and Todd Doherty, who was given a special position by O’Toole as an adviser on mental health issues.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said Tuesday that Quebecers need to scrutinize O’Toole.

He is against many of the province’s priorities, Blanchet said, including its support for medical assistance in dying, and its opposition to pipelines.

“We want Quebecers to really know him,” he said.

Blanchet, who had previously suggested his party was ready to trigger an election on the basis of the ethics scandals plaguing the Liberals, appeared to tone down his battle rhetoric Tuesday.

Speaking at his party’s own caucus meeting in St-Hyacinthe, Que., he put down some new markers, including a desire for the conclusion of the various ethics reports into the government’s decision to award the operation of a student grant program to the WE Charity, known for its ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family.

He said he also wants to see the Liberals put in place an amnesty for people who may have to pay back some of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to eligibility problems.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of Canada

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

Just Posted

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

The trek was made without spectators on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2021. Organizers are planning a second run for February, when they hope public health restrictions are lifted. (Tammy Raynor - Submitted Photo)
As mushers deliver, sled dog mail run organizers announce second event

The dogs made the trip from Quesnel to Barkerville, delivering envelopes of mail for Canada Post

The driver of this truck received minor injuries after it careened off the highway. (Quesnel RCMP Photo)
Semi-truck crashes down 200-foot embankment off Highway 97

The truck also spilled diesel fuel into Cuisson Creek

Operating Room nurse Tammy Solecki, Clinical Practice Leader Joanne George, and Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Van Zyl, stand alongside new equipment G.R. Baker’s shoulder surgery extension. (Submitted photo)
New shoulder surgery program at G.R. Baker Hospital in Quesnel already getting rave reviews

The $200,000 program could support nearly 100 surgeries a year at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
Canadians divided over Keystone pipeline, despite U.S. president’s permit pullback

Two-thirds of Canadians think Biden’s decision was a “bad thing” for Alberta

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer’s uniform as she makes a phone call. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver man calls 911 to report his own stabbing, leading to arrest: police

Officers located the suspect a few blocks away. He was holding a bloody knife.

Vernon has agreed to a goose cull to control the over-populated invasive species making a muck of area parks and beaches. (Morning Star file photo)
Okanagan city pulls the trigger on goose cull

City asking neighbours to also help control over-population of geese

Most Read