Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin says he has confidence in the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. Andrew Scheer scored a major upset in Toronto over the weekend, beating out front-runner Maxime Bernier with 51 per cent of the points. Warkentin says he’d been encouraging him to run since Stephen Harper stepped down.
“I believe that he is the person who has the capability of growing into a position of being a strong prime minister, and I think that party members from across the country have recognize that he has what it’s going to take to take leadership of the party and be the leader that can someday be the prime minister.”
Like Justin Trudeau for the Liberals, Warkentin calls Scheer the next generation of Conservative leadership and an alternative to the PM in the next election. He addss he looks forward to serving the new leader in whatever capacity asked of him.
Scheer earned 56.24 per cent of the votes from party members in this riding, while Bernier got the rest. Warkentin says the Grande Prairie region is fortunate to have him at the helm.
“He is a western MP and that’s great news for us in Grande Prairie. He knows the industries that are in our community; he understands agriculture, he understands the oil and gas sector, he understands the priorities that we have… we look forward to having him.”
After his surprise win, the governing party looks to be painting the new opposition leader as a social conservative extremist. Liberal MPs have been arguing he won because he doesn’t want to reopen debates on gay marriage and abortion, and pointing out that he’s voted against gay rights, abortion rights, and a recent transgender rights bill. Chris Warkentin says those issues have been dealt with, and argues Scheer will be able to reach Canadians of all walks of life.
“Andrew has demonstrated having had a broad coalition of people who supported him coast-to-coast; he is going to have no problem in terms of bringing together people, not only Conservatives, but people who have never been engaged in politics in the past. That is what he has demonstrated over the past several months and that is what he is going to continue to do.”
Warkentin says their party will instead be focusing on managing the economy, with a plan to defeat the Liberals in the next election. He says after this session of parliament, Scheer plans to travel the country to introduce himself to Canadians. Warkentin expect some shuffling in the fall.