Politics

Conservative known for confrontational approach to media leaves Scheer's office, citing health

An outspoken Conservative staffer has left Andrew Scheer's office, citing health concerns.

Scheer recently promised to push back against not only the Trudeau government but the news media as well

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Scheer speaks with the media following question period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday January 31, 2018. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

A Conservative staffer known for "going for the jugular" against critics — including the media — has left Andrew Scheer's office, citing a health issue.

Jacqui Delaney was hired as the Conservative leader's manager of media relations and issues management about five weeks ago, just as Scheer began touting his plan to stand up to "this government, the media and the privileged elite."

A senior Conservative source tells CBC News that Scheer was advised that going head-to-head with the media is a good strategy in the lead up to the election, and Delaney was hired to help execute that objective.

Speaking to CBC News, Delaney declined to publicly say any more about her health issue. She said she gave written notice to the Leader's Office on Oct 17. Her last day in the job was this past Friday and she has returned to her previous position as Sen. Leo Housakos' director of parliamentary affairs.

A senior Conservative source confirmed Delaney decided to leave earlier in the month, before media scrutiny of her role intensified.

CBC News also was provided with a copy of the email Delaney sent to Conservative colleagues on Friday in which she expresses regret at leaving but notes "unforeseen personal circumstances dictate that I step away from OLO for the time being."

Delaney, a former broadcaster with Sun News and CFRB, was open to engaging with the media — but her approach could be confrontational. Last month she tweeted that she is not afraid to "go for the jugular" with critics. She said on Twitter this weekend that her approach is "directed at people who throw punches but can't take them, including some members of the media."

Her departure coincides with recent media coverage of Scheer's approach to dealing with journalists, and specifically of Delaney's tweet. Delaney said she wants to make it clear that the two events — Scheer's public embrace of a more aggressive approach with the press, and her resignation — are unrelated.

"It really had nothing to do with it."

Delaney said she has been called names and threatened online, but doesn't intend to stop tweeting. In fact, she said, her change in roles may liberate her.

"If anything, I've probably toned down my social media presence by being at OLO. I think that's evident in my Twitter feed."

Scheer's spokesperson decline to comment on Delaney's departure, saying it was an internal staffing matter.