Imagine being a Conservative donor and realizing that your hard-earned money to get the party elected had been used by Party leader Andrew Scheer to send his kids to private school?
It’s not clear yet whether it was approved through normal channels or not.
It’s almost worse if it was approved. Was there no adult in the room exercising common sense?
It’s reminiscent of former cabinet minister Bev Oda’s $1,000 a day in limousine expenses, a pricey stay at London’s Savoy Hotel in 2011 and her $16 glass of orange juice — except she billed taxpayers for the lavishness.
But with political donations come tax receipts, so in the end Sheer’s entitlements are still coming out of the public purse in some way.
With his almost $265,000 salary, free housing and a car and driver, Scheer was not exactly hard done by. The sense of entitlement is baffling. The Conservatives’ slogan in the last election that “it’s time for you to get ahead” has a whole new meaning. More like it’s time for Scheer to get ahead, at your expense.
Scheer leaving is a good move for the party. While improving on the number of Conservative seats, Trudeau still won the election, albeit with a minority government. But it was a Pyrrhic victory, akin to coming in fourth in the Olympics.
Scheer failed to capitalize on all the Liberal scandals. He came across as unfocused and indecisive, letting his opponents define him. He made it easy for them.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper and former prime minister Jean Chretien both managed to govern for a decade by renouncing socially divisive issues, such as abortion and gay rights. Scheer was wishy-washy. As a result, the media had a field day with him.
Scheer’s message kept getting lost in the fog of war.
The election should have had the economy as a top issue. We lost 71,000 jobs in November alone, the largest unemployment number since the recession a decade ago. Not to mention our ever-ballooning deficit.
But those issues took a back seat to things like why Scheer won’t walk in Pride parades.
There’s no shortage of candidates to replace Scheer. But the Conservatives have to shed the greying old man image. In other words, they need a woman to replace him. Think former ministers Rona Ambrose and Lisa Raitt. The conservatives need a strong progressive leader to focus on real priorities, not constantly taking the Liberals’ bait.
With former minister John Baird’s upcoming report on what went wrong with the conservative election strategy to come out soon, the party has a few months of soul searching before the upcoming leadership convention in April.
The first thing the conservative party should do is insist that Scheer pay back the cost of his kids’ private school. The conservatives should also make more transparent about where donations are going. Otherwise, donations will end up drying up pretty fast.
This is my last column. I’ve written every Sunday for over four years now. It’s been fun and many thanks to my readers and staff at the Sun for their support.
– Andre Marin is counsel to the firm at Lister Beaupre