Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is naming his shadow cabinet, including his predecessor Andrew Scheer as the party’s infrastructure critic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Scheer remains on Conservatives’ front bench as party readies for Parliament

O’Toole didn’t have a long list of MPs who had challenged him for leadership to try and place on the front benches

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole unveiled Tuesday the list of who will sit on the Opposition front benches, ahead of the party’s first caucus meeting since he won the leadership race last month.

Wednesday’s gathering comes two weeks before the return of the House of Commons and the minority Liberal government’s throne speech laying out its priorities for the COVID-19 recovery in Canada.

O’Toole said Tuesday his own party’s plans won’t be far behind.

“In the coming weeks, we will be presenting a plan to put hardworking Canadians first, lead our nation out of this crisis and rebuild our great country,” he said in a statement.

In choosing those who will serve as critics for the Liberal government ministries, O’Toole picked a mix of loyal supporters, some who backed his rivals and several key players in the party who had remained entirely neutral in the leadership race.

Among them: his predecessor Andrew Scheer, who will serve as infrastructure critic; Ontario’s Pierre Poilievre, who remains as finance critic; and Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who will take on the health portfolio.

Ontario MP Michael Chong becomes the Conservatives’ critic for foreign affairs, considered one of the most high-profile portfolios.

That was the portfolio O’Toole himself was granted in 2017 after he lost the leadership race that year to Scheer.

Unlike Scheer, however, O’Toole didn’t have a long list of MPs who had challenged him for leadership to try and place on the front benches. There were only three other contenders, including only one other MP — Ontario’s Derek Sloan.

Sloan’s campaign had been primarily focused on winning support among social conservatives, though he secured no endorsements from MPs from that cohort of the party during the race.

A controversy over remarks he made about the country’s chief public health officer nearly saw him kicked out of caucus, and he ultimately finished last in the leadership contest.

He didn’t get a critic’s job.

But, O’Toole did acknowledge the supporters of his other rivals.

Two MPs who backed Leslyn Lewis, the Toronto lawyer who ran with the support of many social conservatives and finished in a strong third place, were given critic roles. Richard Bragdon, a New Brunswick MP who backed her bid will serve as the critic for fisheries, while Rosemarie Falk from Saskatchewan will be the critic for seniors.

Lewis herself has said she will run in the next election for the Conservatives.

ALSO READ: After MP’s offensive tweet, O’Toole says Tories will counter anti-Semitism

Several of those who backed Peter MacKay for leadership were given critics jobs, including some who had supported O’Toole in 2017 but switched sides this time around.

They include James Bezan, who O’Toole has left in place as defence critic and Todd Doherty, who was given a special position by O’Toole as an adviser on mental health issues.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said Tuesday that Quebecers need to scrutinize O’Toole.

He is against many of the province’s priorities, Blanchet said, including its support for medical assistance in dying, and its opposition to pipelines.

“We want Quebecers to really know him,” he said.

Blanchet, who had previously suggested his party was ready to trigger an election on the basis of the ethics scandals plaguing the Liberals, appeared to tone down his battle rhetoric Tuesday.

Speaking at his party’s own caucus meeting in St-Hyacinthe, Que., he put down some new markers, including a desire for the conclusion of the various ethics reports into the government’s decision to award the operation of a student grant program to the WE Charity, known for its ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family.

He said he also wants to see the Liberals put in place an amnesty for people who may have to pay back some of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to eligibility problems.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of Canada

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

Just Posted

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

Celebrating 50 years of Rotary in action

The Rotary Club of Ladysmith was formed September 20, 1970

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Paul Manly reacts to Liberal throne speech

Manly says the Liberals need to back up their promises with action

Island Savings closes Ladysmith branch

Ladysmith branch members can be served by the Chemainus branch

No safe mask option for bearded members, RCMP says, but force is exploring solutions

RCMP says respirator not mandatory in all front-line situations, but sometimes needed to reduce risk

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out stand on Norcross Road

Pedestrian dies in motor vehicle incident along the highway near Nanaimo Airport

Police investigating scene where 37-year-old woman from Nanaimo died

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. marriage annulled because husband was unable to have sex with wife

Husband did not disclose any sexual health concerns to his wife prior to marriage

White Rock’s namesake spray-painted with Black Lives Matter slogan

Vandalism occurred sometime between Friday and Saturday

Most Read