By: Laura Steiner
Andrew Who? screamed the headlines of Sunday morning editions of national newspapers. Andrew Scheer; an MP from Saskatchewan. A 38- year old Catholic, social-conservative with five kids is now the leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition in Ottawa. He’s served in Parliament since 2004, including a four-year stint as Speaker of the House of Commons; the youngest to ever serve in that role.
It isn’t wrong to be concerned about the social conservatism. Canada isn’t naturally built like that. But when you take into account the advocacy for free speech it could become an issue of pragmatism. From comments Scheer has made so far, the idea is to allow the social conservatives to speak. Allowing those views to be heard is one thing, acting on them is another; private members’ bills are notoriously difficult to get passed. It brings to mind former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Chrétien is Catholic, but never allowed his religion to influence his decision making. It could well be Scheer turns out to be like that.
Choosing Scheer presents a difficulty for the Liberals among Millennials. This is the demographic said to be responsible for the majority. But, breaking the promise on electoral reform, and recent comments from Finance Minister Bill Morneau on the concept of job churn as a new reality put their support in doubt. Choosing someone who can speak to Millennials suddenly puts their votes in play. People like to see themselves reflected in their governments. It makes it a competitive campaign, if not a winning one.
It’s a signal the Conservatives will play for the long haul. Scheer’s age means barring any unforeseen circumstances, he’s in it for more than one election cycle. A 2019 victory is not out of the question. Mishandling of NAFTA renegotiations could end the Liberals, so could mishandling issues surrounding the pipelines, and the implementation of the carbon tax. Scheer’s presence as leader, marks the end of the Liberal honeymoon.
Many call Andrew Scheer “Stephen Harper with a smile.” He is a small, but comfortable change from Harper. Let’s give him a chance, and see what he’s got.