Politics

Scheer fires 2 top staff after election loss

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer has fired two top aides in his office as the party deals with the fallout of an election loss.

Conservatives lost the election in October despite often leading the Liberals in the polls

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaks to reporters in a hallway after leaving a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his office in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 12. He fired two top aides on Saturday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer has fired two top aides in his office as the party deals with the fallout of an election loss.

Chief of staff Marc-André Leclerc and communications director Brock Harrison no longer work for Scheer, according to an email from the party leader sent on Saturday. 

"Following the election results, and as we gear up to hold Justin Trudeau to account in this new minority Parliament, I felt it was important to make changes at the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition," the email from Scheer to his staff, obtained by CBC News, reads.

"These decisions are never easy, especially when they involve friends. I wish them nothing but the best in all of their future endeavours."

Multiple Conservative sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained the two men were told of the decision on Thursday night. They said Scheer informed them personally that they were to be let go and not be allowed to resign.

Caucus wants changes

It's the first sign of shifts within Scheer's office since the election. In a press conference two weeks after the results, Scheer blamed the loss on communications issues. "There were times where our message didn't resonate with Canadians, that's clear," he said. 

Sources said that some members of caucus presented Scheer with a list of people he needed to fire. Other Conservatives close to Scheer contradicted that, saying the leader came to the conclusion on his own, based on what the party needs moving forward. 

"We can't run the same campaign that we ran before," one official said. 

Other officials added that several Conservative MPs asked that campaign director Hamish Marshall also be cut, but he denied he was fired or had stepped down from his role with the team.

"I was hired to run the 2019 campaign which is over. My contract expires with that work," he told CBC News on Saturday, adding he would be returning to his regular business full time. 

The Conservatives were locked in a tight battle in the polls with the Liberals for most of the campaign. Ultimately, they fell short of forming government. The party increased its seat count and took a higher percentage of the popular vote, but finished with 121 seats to the Liberals' 157. 

Martin Bélanger will act as chief of staff and Simon Jefferies as director of communications while permanent replacements are found.

"Today, after 10 years, I am retiring from federal politics. I want to thank Mr. Scheer for his trust and the opportunity to play a major role," Leclerc tweeted. 

Harrison posted to Facebook that he wanted to "thank Andrew Scheer for allowing me the privilege of serving him, our party, and our country. I have never worked with a leader of higher character and greater integrity."

Leclerc and Harrison took over those top jobs in Scheer's office around the same time, during the summer of 2018. 

 

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