Two days after the debate that saw 14 Conservative Party leadership hopefuls square off in Moncton, NB, one of the race’s front-runners brought his appeal to conservative supporters to London.
Saskatchewan Conservative MP and former Speaker of the House Andrew Scheer spoke to the MacDonald-Cartier Club in London Thursday afternoon, positing himself as the “real conservative” choice in the race that also includes a number of high profile caucus colleagues.
After the event, Scheer visited AM980 for a sit-down interview with Andrew Lawton, laying out his vision for his party, but also the country.
“I believe a good leader keeps every kind of conservative in the tent,” he said. “There are many different kinds of conservatives: there are social conservatives, there’s more social liberals within our party. There’s libertarians, there’s people very concerned about military issues and foreign policy. A good leader finds that common ground. A good leader doesn’t say to any one kind of conservative, ‘We don’t need you in our party; we don’t want to hear from you.’ If we don’t have every kind of conservative in the tent helping in 2019, we’re not going to win.”
The pro-life advocacy group Campaign Life Coalition has lauded Scheer’s voting record, but has not endorsed his candidacy for leadership, citing uncertainty about his current position on these issues.
In his interview with Lawton, Scheer addressed this by saying that social conservatives in his caucus would be allowed to vote their conscience on moral issues.
“It might not be that they get every policy wish that they’d like, and that goes for social liberals and libertarians,” he said, later adding, “I have always voted pro-life, and that is a core conviction that I have. Our policy also says that a Conservative government will not introduce legislation on that issue, so I respect that. I understand that by the leader bringing in policy–or a bill–would divide our own caucus and would be very difficult to pass our own caucus, never mind a vote in the House of Commons. I’ve said, look, individual MPs have the right to speak their mind and express their views and their conscience, but it’s the leader’s job to find that common ground.”
As an MP, Scheer voted against the recent assisted suicide legislation.
He pointed to issues that are more unifying to the right, however, as being central to his campaign.
“I am unabashedly conservative,” he said. “I am unapologetically in favour of cutting taxes and ensuring the size of government says constrained, if not shrunk. And I want to take those things that I believe in and communicate them in a way that’s more positive.”