Conservative MP Andrew Scheer listens to a question after announcing he will run for the leadership of the Conservative party Wednesday September 28, 2016 in Ottawa. Scheer is accusing possible candidate Kevin O’Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative MP Andrew Scheer listens to a question after announcing he will run for the leadership of the Conservative party Wednesday September 28, 2016 in Ottawa. Scheer is accusing possible candidate Kevin O’Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative Leader Scheer dismisses two top staff in wake of election loss

Martin Belanger and Simon Jefferies will fill the respective posts on an interim basis

Federal Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer dismissed two of his top aides on Saturday as he and his party grapple with the fallout of what many see as a disappointing performance in last month’s election.

Scheer announced the changes in a morning letter to caucus, saying chief of staff Marc-Andre Leclerc and communications director Brock Harrison have been relieved of their duties effective immediately.

Martin Belanger and Simon Jefferies will fill the respective posts on an interim basis until full-time replacements can be found.

Scheer did not spell out reasons for the dismissals in his letter, saying only that personnel changes were being made as the party prepares to assume an active role in the liberal-led minority parliament.

“We have an important job to do – holding Justin Trudeau and his corrupt Liberal government to account – and when we do that job well, we will be ready to replace him when the next election comes,” the letter said.

ALSO READ: Scheer facing new kind of civil war brewing within the Conservative party

The changes come at a time when both the party and Scheer are facing tough questions following the results of the Oct. 21 election.

Scheer was widely perceived as a front-runner following the SNC-Lavalin affair that was believed to have dimmed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chances at re-election. Victory seemed still more plausible after images surfaced earlier in the campaign depicting Trudeau in blackface.

But polls consistently showed that Scheer was unable to gain a meaningful edge, with the Liberals and Conservatives running in a dead heat throughout the campaign.

And while the Conservatives gained seats on election day, few of them came in the seat-rich battlegrounds of Quebec and Ontario. The Liberals now form a minority government with the Conservatives maintaining their status as the official opposition.

Word of the staffing changes came as Scheer toured the Atlantic provinces, partially to gather feedback from party members.

Both of the dismissed staffers issued Facebook posts acknowledging the personnel changes and thanking Scheer for his support over the years.

“Of course, the results of October 21 are not what I expected,” Leclerc wrote. “But they do not reflect all the efforts our team made before and during the campaign.”

Leclerc said he would now be retiring from politics after spending the past 10 years in the field.

“I wish nothing but success to my former colleagues in the months ahead,” wrote Harrison, who once worked for Alberta’s now-defunct Wildrose party. ”We all poured ourselves into this campaign, and while I am part of changes that had to be made, I hope you all continue on with your eyes on the prize.”

Questions around Scheer’s own job continue to swirl as the house prepares to resume in two weeks time.

His fate will be decided at a leadership review in April 2020.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Downed hydro line sparks brush fire in Yellow Point

North Oyster firefighters and B.C. Hydro on scene along Yellow Point Road

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Heavy flows of water pooled on Davis Road after a lead to a fire hydrant burst on Thursday Jan. 21. (Jim Tredwell photo)
Fire hydrant connection burst at Davis Road and Battie Drive

Crews worked well into the night on Thursday Jan. 21 to staunch the flow of water

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

Most Read