Ed Fast rejects Scheer's offer of critic's post, cites leadership concerns
Rachael Harder also absent from Conservative list of cabinet critics
Ed Fast, a former trade minister under Stephen Harper, has turned down an offer to serve in Andrew Scheer's "shadow cabinet," citing concerns about his leadership.
In an interview with CBC News, Fast said he spoke with the Conservative leader this week about where he might fit into the lineup of critics tasked with scrutinizing Liberal cabinet ministers.
"I expressed my desire not to be included at this time," he said.
"Mr. Scheer, I believe, is entitled to surround himself with a team that fully supports his leadership and I'm looking forward to remaining fully in the affairs of our Conservative caucus and to holding Justin Trudeau to account for his actions, his words and how he leads this country."
Fast declined to provide details of his private discussion with Scheer, or say what role he was offered. In the last Parliament, he served as the party's environment and climate change critic.
Scheer's spokesman Simon Jefferies said that the shadow cabinet, which is "50 MPs strong," is ready to hold Trudeau to account.
"Mr. Scheer appreciates the efforts Ed Fast put into developing the Conservative environment plan as the previous shadow minister and Ms. Kerry-Lynne Findlay will continue to build on his work as the new shadow minister for the environment and climate change," he said in an email.
"Mr. Fast will continue to serve the Conservative caucus in different ways."
Rachael Harder, the party's status of women critic in the last Parliament, is also no longer part of the Conservative shadow cabinet. Both Harder and Fast endorsed Erin O'Toole in the last Conservative leadership contest.
Fast's decision delivered another public blow to Scheer's leadership. He's facing mounting criticism over his election performance and Conservative MPs and grassroots party members are debating whether he should stay on as leader through the next election.
Several failed candidates and party operatives have publicly questioned his leadership and suggested he should step aside before a leadership review at the party convention in April.
Scheer vows to fight for job
On Thursday, Scheer made it clear he intends to fight to keep his job.
"I am staying on to fight the fight that Canadians elected us to do. Now is not the time for internal divisions or internal party politics. That is an unfortunate part of the Conservative tradition in this country, but it's essential that we stay focused on the task at hand," he said.
"I will be making the case to our members that we need to stay united and focused, and will be seeking a mandate to do that in April."
Conservatives gather in Toronto for the biennial convention in April.
Former cabinet minister John Baird is conducting an external review of the party's election results, to help Conservatives understand the reasons for the party's defeat.
As part of that review, Baird is conducting interviews with candidates and campaign staff. Fast said he has provided input to that process.
"I have shared with John Baird my concerns about how the last election was run," he said. "John has met with many other stakeholders as well, and I'm going to await the outcome of that process, and I think the party will be in the position to respond at that time."
Some MPs will keep the files they held before the election. James Bezan, for example, remains defence critic, Pierre Poilievre is still the finance critic, O'Toole stays on as foreign affairs critic and Marilyn Gladu continues as the health critic.
Others have been tasked with new files, including Michelle Rempel Garner — now the critic for industry and economic development — and Peter Kent, now critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship.
Here is the full list of critics:
- Ziad Aboultaif: digital government
- Dan Albas: employment, workforce development and disability inclusion
- Mel Arnold: fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- John Barlow: agriculture and agri-food
- Michael Barrett: ethics
- Luc Berthold: infrastructure and communities
- Steven Blaney: Canadian heritage
- Kelly Block: public services and procurement
- Colin Carrie: Canada-U.S. relations and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
- Michael Chong: democratic institutions
- James Cumming: small business and export promotion
- Raquel Dancho: diversity and inclusion and youth
- Chris d'Entremont: official languages and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Gérard Deltell: intergovernmental affairs
- Todd Doherty: transport
- Kerry-Lynne Findlay: environment and climate change
- Cheryl Gallant: veterans affairs (associate) and the Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
- Bernard Généreux: rural economic development and the Economic Development Agency of Canada for Regions of Quebec
- Garnett Genuis: multiculturalism
- Marilyn Gladu: health
- Tracy Gray: interprovincial trade
- Randy Hoback: international trade
- Matt Jeneroux: infrastructure and communities (associate)
- Pat Kelly: finance (associate)
- Hon. Peter Kent: immigration, refugees and citizenship
- Stephanie Kusie: families, children and social development
- Mike Lake: international development
- Richard Lehoux: agriculture and agri-food (associate)
- Richard Martel: national defence (associate)
- Phil McColeman: veterans affairs
- Cathy McLeod: natural resources (forestry and mining)
- Rob Moore: justice and attorney general
- Marty Morantz: national revenue
- Glen Motz: public safety and emergency preparedness (associate)
- Erin O'Toole: foreign affairs
- Pierre Paul-Hus: public safety and emergency preparedness
- Pierre Poilievre: finance and the National Capital Commission
- Michelle Rempel Garner: industry and economic development
- Blake Richards: tourism and western economic diversification
- Bob Saroya: Queen's Privy Council for Canada
- Jamie Schmale: Crown-Indigenous relations
- Shannon Stubbs: natural resources
- David Sweet: international human rights and religious freedom
- Tim Uppal: Treasury Board
- Karen Vecchio: women and gender equality
- Gary Vidal: Indigenous services
- John Williamson: labour
- Alice Wong: seniors
- Bob Zimmer: northern affairs and the Northern Economic Development Agency