Cross Country Checkup·Ask Me Anything

No room for 'bigotry' on same-sex marriage in Conservative party, says party insider

Strategist Kory Teneycke told Cross Country Checkup on Sunday that a 'myriad of views' are acceptable within the Conservative Party, but 'bigotry' is not one of them. Teneycke took calls from listeners during an Ask Me Anything call-in.

Strategist Kory Teneycke told Checkup 'myriad of views,' including anti-abortion, are acceptable

Andrew Scheer stepped down as Conservative Party leader on Thursday, Dec. 12, but will remain on as interim leader until a successor is chosen. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
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Each week, Cross Country Checkup devotes the program's last half hour to an interview with a high-profile newsmaker, celebrity, thinker or cultural figure who takes calls from listeners.

As the Conservative Party grapples with its future in the wake of Andrew Scheer's resignation, former party strategist Kory Teneycke says there's room for social conservatives among its supporters — but opposing same-sex marriage is off the table.

"If people get a whiff that you think that being a homosexual is sinful ... I think that is an opinion that is unacceptable in the mainstream of Canadian politics today. And I think that's a good thing," Teneycke told Cross Country Checkup.

When it comes to party member's perspectives on abortion, however, Teneycke said those with opposing views should still feel comfortable within the party.

"I think there are a myriad of views that are acceptable within a big tent, but one of them can't be bigotry," he said comparing opposition to same-sex marriage to racism.

Kory Teneycke was a strategist for Stephen Harper's 2008 federal election campaign and Ontario Premier Doug Ford's 2018 provincial election campaign. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

As Conservative Party Leader, Andrew Scheer came under fire during the 2019 election campaign for his personal views on both same-sex marriage and abortion.

While Scheer said he personally opposed both same-sex marriage and abortion, he said he would not reopen the issue if elected.

Teneycke made the comments Sunday during an Ask Me Anything call-in. Teneycke is the former communications director to Stephen Harper and managed Ontario Premier Doug Ford's successful 2018 election campaign. 

He answered questions about the federal Conservative's future after Scheer and who he thinks could succeed the outgoing leader.

Tuition spending against party 'brand'

Teneycke has been openly critical of Andrew Scheer, telling Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos in November he should resign. 

On Dec. 12, Scheer announced his resignation as leader, citing a desire to spend more time with family. On the heels of the resignation, however, Scheer's use of party coffers to fund his children's private school tuition emerged.

After weeks of mounting criticism of his election performance, Andrew Scheer announced today he is stepping down as Conservative Party leader. 1:25

Teneycke doubled down on his earlier comments, telling Checkup host Duncan McCue that Scheer should resign as interim leader.

"It would allow us to put some of the controversies around expenses and other things behind us and just focus on the leadership race," Teneycke said.

While the CPC has characterized the school fee payment as part of "a standard offer to cover costs associated with moving," Teneycke calls Scheer's use of party funds hypocritical and "very much against the brand of the party."

But ultimately it was the lack of support from within the party that lead to his downfall.

"The fundamental question around this is whether or not one should automatically go into a leadership process after you lose an election, and my view is that you should," he said.

Future leader should be successful 'outside of politics'

As the Conservatives head toward a leadership race, Teneycke told McCue that the party's future leader requires "demonstrated leadership capability."

"If you were to sort of assign points to different things that, in summation, lead to a score that makes you a good leader or a bad leader, I think one of them is, have you been successful in life in something outside of politics?" he said.

Al Hallden, calling from Saskatoon, pressed Teneycke on whether he believed Ontario MPP Caroline Mulroney or former Conservative Party interim leader Rona Ambrose could fit the bill.

Ontario's Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney, left, and former Conservative Party interim leader Rona Ambrose. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

Teneycke called both "very intelligent, successful, dynamic women who play big roles in our party," and acknowledged that premiers Brad Wall and Jason Kenney have both pushed Ambrose to run.

Ambrose didn't run for party leadership during the 2017 race given her role as interim leader.

Though Teneycke says Mulroney has stated she has no intention to run for the federal party leadership, he acknowledged that Ambrose has so far been mum on the idea.

"One can only imagine that she's considering it," Teneycke said.


Written by Jason Vermes. Segment produced by Richard Raycraft.

To hear the full Ask Me Anything with Kory Teneycke, download our podcast or click Listen above.

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