The Current

Scheer has yet to distinguish himself from previous Conservative leaders, expert says

After a tumultuous winter in Ottawa, Andrew Scheer's Conservatives find themselves at the top of the polls — just as this fall's federal election starts to come into focus. But who is he? And what does he stand for? Our political panel weighs in.

'Andrew Scheer hasn't made people feel like he's really got something to say,' Campbell Clark asserts

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addresses the Conservative caucus on Parliament Hill earlier this year. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer's recent foreign policy speech proves he has yet to set himself apart from other Tory leaders, according to the Globe and Mail's chief political writer.

"This speech could have been written by John Baird's foreign policy adviser," said Campbell Clark, referencing the former foreign affairs minister in the cabinet of then-prime minister Stephen Harper.

Scheer delivered an impassioned speech Tuesday to the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations that sought to outline his foreign policy priorities while making sure to blame Canada's current global struggles on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

With a federal election less than six months away, Canada's political party leaders are gearing up to take to the campaign trail. As of Wednesday, polling projections put Scheer's Conservatives in the lead with a rough six per cent advantage over the Liberals. This lead, Clark suggests, isn't guaranteed to hold if Scheer doesn't distinguish himself more strongly as a unique leader.

"The point of the exercise here is to give him some kind of definition of: who is Andrew Scheer? What does he stand for?" Clark told The Current's guest host Matt Galloway.

"It was all the same kinds of things that you would have expected under Stephen Harper … Andrew Scheer hasn't made people feel like he's really got something to say."

The one caveat to this, Clark concedes, is Scheer's take on China-Canada relations, which differs from that of former Conservative leaders.

"He's really taking a fairly strong attitude towards China, that would be a big deal for Canadian foreign policy."

To unpack Scheer's foreign policy speech and other updates in Canada's corridors of power, Galloway spoke to:

  • Susan Delacourt, national columnist and Ottawa bureau chief for the Toronto Star.

  • Campbell Clark, chief political writer for the Globe and Mail.

  • Marie Vastel, parliamentary correspondent for Le Devoir.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Idella Sturino and Jessica Linzey. With files from CBC News.


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