Andrew Scheer will likely mark his last day in the House of Commons as Leader of the Opposition

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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is set to mark a political milestone today: his last time in the House of Commons as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.Today’s sitting in the House of Commons is one of two sessions scheduled for August, but the second comes after party members elected Scheer’s replacement, ending a long and sometimes painful process for Scheer who started right after the federal election last fall.

The fact that the House is sitting this month is something Scheer himself praised on Tuesday when briefly touching on his accomplishments at a press conference.

He argued that House of Commons sittings, committee hearings, and the ability to propose improvements to government programs all stemmed from opposition pressure for more accountability from the Liberals as they were deploying their response to COVID-19.

While the Liberals did not pick up on the Conservatives on all of their ideas, they did accept some, Scheer said.

“We didn’t miss a beat, we were right there,” he said.

Member of Parliament since 2004

Perhaps it is fitting for Scheer to count among his legacy the struggle to keep the work of Parliament going through an unprecedented period.

In addition to being the Member of Parliament for Regina since 2004, he was Speaker of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2015. This was after the Conservatives lost the government in 2015 and after the resignation of then leader Stephen. Harper, that Scheer decided to go for the leadership job. He won in 2017, winning a very narrow victory over his fellow MP Maxime Bernier.

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He spent the next two years trying to gain recognition across the country, while bolstering the party’s war chest and political handbook to defeat the Liberal government in the October 2019 election.

Although the Liberals are battling several scandals that have reduced them to a minority, Scheer has failed to bring them down. This failure was in part related to Scheer’s inability to clearly articulate his position on conservative social issues.

There were also factors that undermined his credibility – for example, a claim to be an insurance salesman when he never qualified for a license and did not reveal that he was a dual US-Canadian citizen.

Some, including Scheer, have argued that increasing the number of Conservative seats and beating the Liberal share in the popular vote was a success. But the knives were out for Scheer almost immediately after election day.

Among the blows: Party insiders leaked an internal argument over Scheer’s use of party funds to pay for his children’s private religious studies, a fact unknown to many party leaders.

Party chooses new leader this month

Giving grassroots members more oversight and control over how the party spends money was a topic of discussion for leadership contestants during the campaign that followed.

Voting takes place by mail and all ballots must be returned by August 21. A winner is expected to be announced within days, and most likely before the next House of Commons sitting on August 26.

Candidates Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan are both MPs, so could easily slip into the Leader of the Opposition’s seat – and official residence in Stornoway – if they win.

Neither of the other two candidates, Peter MacKay and Leslyn Lewis, currently sit in the House of Commons. If either wins, they would likely appoint someone to lead the party in the Commons until they can win their own place.

As a by-election looms in Ontario’s York Center riding, thanks to the resignation of the Liberal MP there, neither Lewis nor MacKay’s campaigns have committed to their candidate running for that seat .

Whoever wins, Scheer set them up for success, said Chris Warkentin, an Alberta MP who was one of the early supporters of Scheer’s leadership.

“Those of us who are close to Andrew know his love and passion for his family, our country and our Conservative team,” said Warkentin. “Our party is united, his family is intact and he will continue to fight to build a better country. It is a legacy of leadership that he can be proud of. “

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