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

Central zone down to 16 active COVID-19 cases

Alberta Health Services’ central zone is down to 16

Former Bashaw mayor, postmaster, merchant remembered

A tribute to George McKenzie (Mac) Raemer written by his daughter, Zoe Raemer

Central zone down to 19 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday

Provincially, 158 new COVID-19 cases were identified

Central zone has 20 active cases of COVID-19

Province identified 143 new cases across Alberta on Wednesday

Blindman Brewery wins three awards at national competition

The Lacombe-based brewery won two silvers and a bronze at the annual Canadian Brewing Awards

Alberta’s top health official says province is not in a second wave of COVID-19

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that Alberta had identified 158 new cases in the province

8 charged, $260K in drugs and cash seized in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Millet Agriplex to become a hub for indoor soccer

Wetaskiwin Soccer Club will be operating out of the Millet Agriplex this season.

‘We’re losing what makes the Parkland so distinctive,” conservation specialist says

The Lacombe district will lose two sites with provincial park status: JJ Collett and the Narrows

Sylvan Lake woman says Town’s response time to concerns isn’t enough

Glenda Jackman says it took almost a month for the Town to act on her complaint about a playground

Ermineskin Kindergarten has a confirmed case of COVID-19

The school has shut down and Cohort 2 is in self-isolation

Hundreds die from opioid overdoses in Alberta as COVID-19 pandemic hit

Jason Luan said the province is not alone in seeing a rise in deaths,

Wetaskiwin/ Camrose RCMP conduct a joint forces initiative with Camrose Police Service

The multifaceted joint forces initiative with on Sept. 23, 2020 proved very successful.

Most Read