Politics

A $12 website and volunteer videos: How some Scheer supporters are fighting back

Andrew Scheer's supporters say consultants from "Bay Street" are trying to determine the federal Conservative Party's future. They've launched a campaign to fight back.

New 'Stand with Scheer' campaign aims to show support for Conservative leader

Supporters have launched a new campaign to defend Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer against attacks on his leadership. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Andrew Scheer's supporters have launched what they are calling a grassroots campaign to fight back against "elite Toronto consultants."

Stand With Scheer is a website and Twitter account launched this past weekend, calling on Conservatives to express their support for the federal leader in the run-up to a leadership review that will take place at the party's April convention.

"While they're spending tens of thousands of dollars from Bay Street to try to generate a leadership contest so they can have business for their firms, we're in Ottawa with grassroots support, holding the Liberals to account and supporting our leader, who was elected to do the same," said Michael Barrett, an Ontario MP backing the effort.

The primary target of Barrett's ire appears to be Conservative Victory, a website and non-profit launched by some prominent Conservatives. They include Kory Teneycke, an ex-aide of Stephen Harper, one of the forces behind Maxime Bernier's unsuccessful bid to lead the Conservative Party, and a campaign manager for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Jeff Ballingall, the man behind Ontario Proud and Canada Proud, which sought to defeat Justin Trudeau. 

Conservative Victory is calling on Scheer to step aside and run in a "competitive race" for the party leadership. A second unrelated campaign, called Scheer Must Go, has also been trying to foment frustration with the leader.

In the wake of the October election that saw the Liberals secure a second mandate, Scheer has seen calls for his resignation from some Quebec Conservatives. And two party insiders, including one who worked on Scheer's recent election campaign, have publicly criticized the Conservative leader for his "visible discomfort" with social issues, like same-sex marriage.

On the other end of the spectrum, some prominent social Conservatives told the Globe and Mail that Scheer failed to defend their beliefs during the last election.

'Not an organized effort'

The Stand with Scheer campaign was launched as a way to combat some of those criticisms, and includes several testimonials focused on Scheer's ability to unite the party.

It's not clear precisely who is behind the campaign. Barrett says it's driven by "some MPs and grassroots members," who he contrasts against the individuals pushing for Scheer's resignation.

"Right now, our platform is a $12 website, and volunteer-driven videos that we're putting out, and tweets, and taking the opportunity to speak with members of our media," said Barrett.

Michael Barrett, the Conservative MP for the Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, is one of the caucus members who founded Stand with Scheer. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

The effort was launched this past weekend; so far, the response has been somewhat muted, with tweets receiving only a handful of responses.

Barrett bristled at the idea that the project could be viewed as a barometer of Scheer's support.

"It's not an organized effort, it's not a poll of caucus members for or against. It's just a response to stories that have been put out," he said.

Barrett said he believes the campaign will help balance out the public conversation about Scheer's leadership.

"You take a look at some of the news aggregator sites and it's 10 stories about the same two people talking about the same thing," he said. "Here's a story about someone else who is saying the opposite."

'Spurious and insulting'

Teneycke told CBC News he rejects Barrett's claims, particularly the idea that only a few people in Toronto oppose Scheer.

"I've talked to a lot of people. I've had trouble finding anyone who thinks Andrew can win the next election or supports his leadership," he said.

Kory Teneycke, shown in this 2015 file photo, is one of the people behind Conservative Victory and has called on Scheer to step down ahead of the party's April convention. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Teneycke, who runs the lobbying firm Rubicon, said this effort wasn't about making money for his company. Political campaigns tend to be a loss leader in his industry, he said, calling the suggestion of a profit motive "spurious and insulting."

Teneycke also declined to say how much money Conservative Victory is receiving from donors to fuel anti-Scheer efforts.

"We're under no obligation to disclose anything related to that. To disclose it would likely see people who are facing contributions to us face retribution," he said.

About the Author

Catherine Cullen

Parliamentary Bureau

Catherine Cullen is a senior reporter covering politics and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

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