Andrew Scheer is the new leader of the federal Conservatives (The Canadian Press/Codie McLachlan)

Conservatives elect new leader

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP optimistic about party’s future

The federal Conservatives have elected a new leader.

Andrew Scheer, a Saskatchewan MP, rose to the top over 12 other candidates Saturday to replace former leader Stephen Harper.

“This has been an amazing race,” said Mel Arnold, North Okanagan-Shuswap MP, from the convention in Toronto.

Scheer, a former speaker of the House of the Commons, edged out Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.

“It’s great. Andrew was my second choice,” said Arnold, who had originally backed Erin O’Toole, an Ontario MP.

With the leadership race over, Arnold says Scheer’s first priority must be party unity.

“He needs to pull all of the teams together. There’s a lot of knowledge there,” said Arnold, adding that the goal is to prepare for the 2019 election.

“We will come together to beat the Liberals. People are tired of a tax at every turn and the Liberals have no plans of implementing any of those (election) promises. We have to show that we can do better.”