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

Adams Lake Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse spearheads project to restore Upper Adams River early summer run of sockeye salmon. (File photo)
Adams Lake First Nation heads program to restore salmon habitat in Adams Lake

Chief remembers stories of Upper Adams River early summer run with sockeye weighing up to 40 pounds

Nate Brown photo
Okanagan-Shuswap says goodbye sunshine, hello winter

Temperatures are forecasted to drop by mid-next week

With a second case of COVID-19 confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, parents were advised Thursday, Jan. 14, that the school could be closed for a week or so. (Contributed)
UPDATE: Four cases of COVID-19 identified at Salmon Arm elementary school

Temporary closure being considered for South Canoe Outdoor Learning School

Lindsay Palmateer, a Salmon Arm mother of six, succumbed to her injuries after a serious crash Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, south of Enderby. (Contributed)
‘She was everyone’s caretaker’: Salmon Arm mother of six remembered

GoFundMe campaign exceeds goal already for family involved in deadly crash near Enderby

City of Salmon Arm Coun. Chad Eliason goes public with the information he went to Mexico over Christmas. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm councillor travels to Mexico over Christmas holiday

Politician says he regrets decision and didn’t consider the ramifications

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

Harvest Meats is recalling a brand of Polish sausages, shown in a handout photo, due to undercooking that may make them unsafe to eat. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the recall affects customers in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario and Saskatchewan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canadian Food Inspection Agency Mandatory Credit
Harvest Meats recalls sausages over undercooking

Customers are advised to throw away or return the product

RCMP on scene at a home on Sylvania Cres. (Phil McLachlan /Capital News/FILE)
Two Kelowna men arrested after Rutland home invasion

Two Kelowna men, including a prolific offender, facing slew of potential charges

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Real estate sales in the South Okanagan grew by more than any other part of the province in 2020. (Marissa Tiel - Black Press)
South Okanagan fastest growing real estate market in B.C.

There was over $1 billion in residential sales in 2020

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media/FILE)
Vehicle found abandoned after fleeing Kelowna RCMP, avoiding spike belt

Police believed at the time vehicle was tied to alleged shooting in West Kelowna

West Kelowna RCMP are investigating reports of gunfire in the 1700-block of Ross Road. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating reports of gunfire

West Kelowna RCMP said the incident occurred on Jan. 14

Penticton’s 7-Eleven is closed due to an employee testing positive for COVID-19, the company announced Jan. 15, 2021. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton 7-Eleven closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

The store will re-open “on or before” Jan. 23

Most Read