Scheer: Defector Alleslev is a symbol of 'misplaced trust' in Liberals
Conservatives frame floor-crossing as reflection of broader dissatisfaction with governing party
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says defector Leona Alleslev is a symbol of the "misplaced trust" many Canadians once placed in the Liberal government.
In an address to his caucus on Parliament Hill, Scheer officially welcomed Alleslev to the party by presenting her with a Conservative Party membership card. He said her decision to abandon the Liberals reflects a broader feeling of frustration among Canadians who voted for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's team in the 2015 election.
"Their story is Leona's story, a story of misplaced trust in a prime minister and a party that's proven they just aren't capable of leading a great country and meeting the challenges of our time," he said, accusing the Liberals of failing on trade, border security and economic policy.
Alleslev stunned her fellow caucus members and local riding association by standing up in the House of Commons Monday to announce she was leaving the Liberals to join the Conservatives, citing poor leadership, weak policy and a dismissive approach to backbench MPs as the main reasons for her decision.
Repeating a message he conveyed when Alleslev crossed the floor Monday, Scheer said disenfranchised Liberal supporters are "wanted and needed" in the Conservative Party.
Alleslev, who received a standing ovation from her new colleagues, thanked them for making her feel immediately "welcome and valued."
She said the Liberals have failed to deliver the leadership that's needed in a time of global turbulence, and slammed her former colleagues for trying to undermine her.
"Ever since I joined this team, my friends and colleagues across the aisle have used past emails and recordings to try to discredit me," she said. "It is unfortunate that they have chosen these tactics, but that is not my style, and I will not engage in that approach."
CBC News reported Tuesday that Alleslev delivered abundant praise of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his senior ministers in the weeks before she began talks to join the opposition Conservatives.
Clayton Haluza, the president Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill Federal Liberal Association, told CBC in a statement Monday that he was not given notice or consulted on Alleslev's defection, adding he was disappointed by her surprise decision.
As the Conservatives assemble what Scheer called an "exceptional" team to fight next year's election, the Liberals named the two MPs who will build the Liberal platform for the campaign.
Liberal platform team
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Ontario MP Mona Fortier will co-chair the party's national platform committee.
"Hearing ideas from Canadians directly has always been at the heart of our work together to keep the economy strong, create good new jobs, and make sure that everyone has a real and fair chance at success," said a statement from Trudeau in a news release.
"Ralph and Mona's experience and leadership will help us engage even more Canadians in shaping our positive plan to create more opportunity for the middle class and everyone working hard to join it."
Goodale and Fortier will consult with business, labour, environmental, Indigenous and other community leaders across the country, as well as grassroots Liberals, the caucus and other Canadians.
Foreign policy issues
Late this afternoon, the Conservatives took aim at Liberal foreign policy. A group of MPs gathered in the foyer of the House of Commons to demand the government declare the atrocities against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar a genocide, and formally support the findings of a United Nations fact-finding mission on the military crackdown.
"We must do more than just look to the past with regret. We must take action today with resolve," said Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel.
Rempel also called on the Liberals to speed up family reunification for Yazidis who have come to Canada as refugees. She said it's unfair that those fleeing genocide at the hands of ISIS must wait more than two years to reunite with family members, while those living in safety in the U.S. can exploit the Safe Third Country Agreement to claim asylum in Canada after crossing the border illegally.
Adam Austen, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said the government "will continue to work closely with other states, international organizations and partners to hold those responsible of such international crimes to account, including through the establishment of an international accountability mechanism.
"We intend to discuss this crisis and possible accountability mechanisms with our allies and partners next week at the UN General Assembly," he added.