Politics

Andrew Scheer unveils 'regional, gender diverse' House leadership team

Ontario Conservative MP Lisa Raitt named deputy leader

John Paul Tasker - CBC News

July 20, 2017

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer unveiled his new caucus leadership team Thursday in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer is unveiling his House leadership team in Ottawa today, and at least two familiar faces will assume senior posts, CBC News has learned.

Scheer will present a "regionally and gender diverse team," but he will be partially hampered by the fact the party returned no MPs in either Atlantic Canada or the North in the 2015 election. Eighteen of the 99 Tories elected are women, or roughly 18 per cent of the caucus.

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Ontario MP Lisa Raitt will be appointed deputy leader, sources told CBC News. The Cape Breton native, a deft communicator who has performed well in question period while in opposition, will be given a "meaningful mandate" and staff to support her work.

Conservative Ontario MP Lisa Raitt will serve as deputy leader under Andrew Scheer, CBC News has learned. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Raitt, who ran against Scheer but ultimately placed eighth on the first ballot, said publicly ahead of the vote that she had picked Scheer as her second choice on the ranked ballot.

While she represents a suburban Toronto-area riding, Raitt has been a vocal advocate for her home region, and fared well in ridings in Nova Scotia during her leadership bid despite a distant finish.

Former interim leader Rona Ambrose tapped Raitt to serve as her finance critic, but the former transport minister stepped away from that role after jumping into the race.

Manitoba MP Candice Bergen will also be part of the five-member team that will be unveiled.

Bergen will be recognized for the "tremendous job" she did as House leader under Ambrose, as she was seen as wielding an "iron fist with a velvet glove" in her pointed attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet, a Conservative source, speaking on background, said.

Bergen became House leader after Scheer stepped down to run in the race to replace Stephen Harper as permanent leader. Bergen has squared off with Liberal House leader Bardish Chagger; the two squabbled over controversial proposed changes to the House standing orders.

Opposition critic roles traditionally mirror the government cabinet ministers they face on the other side of the House of Commons, including such jobs as deputy leader, finance critic, House leader and critics for all the major government departments.

Conservative MP Candice Bergen will be a part of the leadership team. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Quebec MP Alain Reyes, who backed Scheer in the leadership race, will serve as his Quebec lieutenant, and could be tapped for another role on the team. Quebec MP Denis Lebel, who has signalled he will be retiring from the House soon, had previously served as Ambrose's deputy leader.

Four female MPs endorsed Scheer in the leadership campaign, including Saskatchewan MP Kelly Block, Quebec MP Sylvie Boucher, Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs, and Saskatchewan MP Cathay Wagantall. One of these women could also be rewarded for their early support of the eventual leader.

Half of the prime minister's cabinet are women.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Paul Tasker
Parliamentary Bureau

John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is a reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

With a file from the CBC's Rosemary Barton
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