Alberta Politics
Jason Kenney looking prime ministerial back in the day (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Andrew Scheer is done like dinner — What Will Jason Do?

Posted on December 12, 2019, 3:08 pm
5 mins

After an unsuccessful election campaign his supporters expected him to win, Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer has been accused by someone of dipping his paws into Conservative Party of Canada funds to pay for his children’s private-school education.

Accordingly, Mr. Scheer is done like dinner. Innocent or not, he has resigned. So as of right now he has no more influence on the party. Whatever he thought yesterday, it has no relevance today.

Outgoing federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer (Photo: Flickr/Andrew Scheer).

Meanwhile, even if the process takes a few months, the jockeying to replace him starts immediately.

So we need not waste a lot of time reviewing Mr. Scheer’s short, spectacularly unsuccessful career as Conservative leader or speculating about why a man earning $259,000 a year and living in a free mansion would have thought he needed extra cash from a politically toxic source to send his kids to private school.

Time for him to get moving. Or, as Alberta Premier Jason Kenney put it in a sweet tweet moments ago, “Thank-you to my friend @AndrewScheer for his service to Canada in the tough job of Leader of the Opposition. I know this was a difficult decision, and wish Andrew all good things in the future.” In other words, what I said.

No, the question that matters now to those of us in Alberta, and perhaps in the rest of Canada too, is WWJD — What Will Jason Do?

Mr. Kenney, United Conservative Party leader and former heir apparent to Stephen Harper’s prime ministerial throne, is well known to have cast covetous eyes on Mr. Scheer’s job. He will be mightily tempted to go for the gusto.

On the other hand, the timing is less than perfect for Mr. Kenney. With October’s federal election out of the way and his nemesis Justin Trudeau back in the PMO without a majority, Alberta’s premier has revealed via his just-released budget what a market-fundamentalist extremist he is. According to a recent poll of dubious provenance in a disreputable newspaper chain, his post-budget popularity has plummeted.

Potential rivals for Mr. Scheer’s job, and there are plenty of good ones, will have taken note of this stuff.

Still, from Mr. Kenney’s perspective, all is not lost. He’s an excellent yarn spinner. He’ll probably have a good explanation for everything by nightfall — which this time of year isn’t that far away.

Premier Kenney has just been to Ottawa with a huge retinue of retainers, thanks to the generosity of Alberta taxpayers, and he probably had more than a hint of what was coming. Maybe Mr. Wolf, his cleanup guy, has already been doing some issues management. Probably one of his new talking points will be that nobody can bring a divided party together like Mr. Kenney can, with or without the help of a Kamikaze candidate.

So what will Jason do?

Notwithstanding his almost instant endorsement of Rona Ambrose, as soon as she politely declines I say he’ll jump. 

Give Mr. Kenney a few months to pull his leadership team together and twist some arms to raise cash for the run. (Potential fund-raising pitch: Promises made; promises kept.)

Then he’ll get the spring budget passed — maybe not quite as horrible a budget as he was planning a few days ago.

Then he’ll step down. He’ll say he had to … to save Canada.

Then he’ll run.

You’ll know I’m right if all of a sudden you don’t hear much more about Alberta’s non-negotiable demands from Confederation. Also, look for a symptomatic downturn in Wexit sentiment.

34 Comments to: Andrew Scheer is done like dinner — What Will Jason Do?

  1. Public Servant

    December 12th, 2019

    If his past history is anything to go by, Kenney will continue to collect his generous salary while campaigning.

    Reply
  2. chuckstraight

    December 12th, 2019

    Maybe Dean Del Maestro would be ready to make a comeback?

    Reply
    • John McManus

      December 12th, 2019

      What is he going back to jail ?

      Reply
  3. Jim

    December 12th, 2019

    So it is okay to use tax deductible campaign contributions to send your kids to private school interesting, but more importantly how this looks and plays with the base. Obviously something that would irritate some and would compromise Scheer’s leadership. Who knew and when did they know it and what else is there? Although this isn’t the primary reason to take him down used with other skeletons it could pressure him out.

    Poor Kenney his dream job comes up and he has been busy unleashing regional division and talk of separation making him untenable in Quebec, parts of Ontario, the lower mainland of BC, likely east of Quebec, and most of Edmonton. That should leave enough seats to form government… So does he throw his Alberta base under the bus to cozy up to Quebec for the chance at the PM job? Something like take me back they were just words, it wasn’t me, they made me. Perhaps the saddest part is Albertans will still vote for him.

    Reply
    • Murphy

      December 14th, 2019

      Would this alienate the base? The 2019 Kon is an aspiring grifter who covets the luck of higher-status grifters. As the society gets dumbed down and becomes more superstitious, sentiments increasingly rule. Any success in “bleeding the beast” is to be praised.

      Reply
  4. Cass Morrison

    December 12th, 2019

    Alberta is the only province that would re-elect him after this performance. That said, think he’ll jump ship after 4 years if the minority government lasts that long.

    Reply
  5. Magda

    December 12th, 2019

    He said he thought Rona was the best option, secure in the knowledge that he offends no one with that and when she says “hey guys, I told you before, NOT interested,” he can consider his options.

    I do believe that the craziness we’re seeing today about Scheer came about because someone wanted him gone before Rona accepts the Ambassador to the US job that’s being talked about. If she’s even slightly interested in the CPC leadership – and I don’t believe it for a second – she certainly wouldn’t be interested in a fight to push Scheer out.

    Reply
  6. Death and Gravity

    December 12th, 2019

    I won’t take that bet.

    Have you noticed any similarities to the sudden turn of events that propelled the less-presentable Ford brother into the Premier’s office?

    Reply
  7. Bill Malcolm

    December 12th, 2019

    Scheer ran an ejection campaign, his own. The federal Cons now need to select as leader the glibbest smarmiest gorfe available, a person able to lie convincingly on the spur of the moment. Jason fits that bill, and he is too grasping a doink not to grab for the brass ring, I agree. If he manages to make it all the way to PM, well, turn off the lights – the country will be toast.

    Reply
  8. Jon Cee

    December 12th, 2019

    Yup. In fact, Kenney’s market extremism is not a feature of his beliefs or disposition but rather a move to demonstrate his fealty to the party’s chief backers, resource extraction companies looking to carpetbag after Alberta’s economy completely chonks out. You see, oil ain’t coming back, and the big boys want to cut their losses. Kenney’s catering to them right now so they’ll back his federal leadership bid come later. Simple.

    Reply
  9. Prairie Observer

    December 12th, 2019

    “or speculating about why a man earning $259,000 a year and living in a free mansion would have thought he needed extra cash from a politically toxic source to send his kids to private school” – because Andy is and never has been the sharpest knife in the drawer. To say this man is obtuse is an understatement. It is a major reason why the Conservatives lost the last election.

    What is just as bad is that the federal Conservatives still only have a B list of possibles to replace him as leader. It is also a terrible idea to allow Scheer to continue on as leader until a new one is chosen as his continued presence will only serve to drag the party even further down. This party is not exactly steeped in deep strategic thinkers and allowing Scheer to stay on as an interim leader is evidence of this. What should be obvious to them is that their next leader should not come from western Canada – take note, Premier of Alberta.

    Reply
    • Political Ranger

      December 13th, 2019

      Your moniker belies the depth and breadth of your observations. I agree.
      A couple of my own:
      Your claim that Scheer is not “the sharpest knife in the drawer” and that calling him obtuse does not rise to the level of apt description is both profound and insightful. The insight is that a sharp-witted, quick-thinking person, capable and competent, would not find themselves leading a mob of yesterday’s conservatives. To maintain the level of anti-democratic vitriol and disrespect for common citizens that epitomise the current conservative mob one has to be slow-witted enough to not be able to follow an argument to its logical conclusion and gullible enough to still believe disproven slogans from 40 or 50 years ago. Any person who would not be described as old used cutlery would be politically aligned with something more contemporary, fact-based and possibly even more progressive.
      The profound observation is that conservatives, all over the world and equally here in Canada, have been usurped by the corporate class; Kenny’s konservatives are the simple and unwitting stooges in a class war perpetuated by the petroleum corporations, Canadian conservatives work directly to promote the interests of owners of corporations over the interests of the common citizen.
      The before-mentioned sharp-witted, quick-thinking person, capable and competent, who was of a conservative leaning would be looking for, or helping to build, a conservative movement that addressed today’s circumstances for today’s people. Something that does not seem to exist. Yet.

      Reply
  10. Rose Kelly

    December 12th, 2019

    Bang on David ! Fingers and toes crossed ! Will be carefully watching for no more non negotiable Alberta demands from Confederation and a “symptomatic downturn in Wexit sentiment”. I also feel the minority government wouldn’t last more than a couple of years, so his eyes will be on the PM seat… Jason to Canada’ rescue….

    Reply
  11. Mark

    December 12th, 2019

    “What? Moi, as Conservative leader! I couldn’t possibly ….. Well, if the people insist . . . “

    Reply
  12. Dave

    December 12th, 2019

    Mr. Scheer resigns shortly after Mr. Kenney’s visit to Ottawa. Hmmm … perhaps they should search the trash near the security check in at the Ottawa airport and related video for any sharp objects disposed of by Mr. Kenney just before his flight back to Alberta.

    However, I’ve noticed Mr. Kenney is fairly good at alibis or at least not being at the scene of the crime when it happens. He was out of town when the Election Commissioner was fired and he certainly was not in Ottawa when Scheer announced his resignation either, so I suspect this will not be pinned on him in any significant way. In the later case, to be fair, certainly Mr. Kenney is not the only person to gain from Scheer’s departure and a lot of other Conservatives looked like they might have been carrying sharp objects too and they were in Ottawa closer to the scene of the crime.

    The almost immediate endorsement of Ambrose by Kenney also suggests to me that something is afoot. I have a feeling Kenney believes she will not run (ambassador? – a lot of prestige and good pay without all the hassle) and this was just done to buy him a bit of time to figure out what to do, or perhaps more importantly how to do it, without having to answer more probing questions for a little so as to take the spotlight off himself while he figures it out.

    While the timing is a bit off for Kenney, I also suspect the Conservatives will reasonably accommodate him (and other potential candidates) by just cancelling the April leadership review meeting – no review needed now, right? This seems fair as it will also give more time for all the unidentified potential leadership candidates to organize themselves. I suppose the party could go with a June leadership convention or maybe even sometime in the early fall. Probably the later date is better for Kenney, to give him more time to get his affairs more in order, but I think he could probably work with the earlier date if necessary. Heck, after all he is always campaigning they apparently say and he already has a whole province that has a lot of Conservative members fairly organized, which is probably more than most other potential candidates can say.

    If Kenney is lucky, this time he may not even need to create a kamikaze candidate if Peter Mackay runs, as long as MacKay doesn’t do a Fildebrandt just beforehand and screw that scenario up for Kenney. In my opinion, Alberta’s gain will be Ottawa’s loss once he picks up his carpet bag and moves back there to his real permanent address. Oh well.

    Reply
    • Lars

      December 13th, 2019

      Kenney seems to have a serial history of leaving people dependent upon him holding the bag while he skives off to more rewarding (to him) opportunities, so I wouldn’t necessarily expect him to give much thought to whom he was leaving in the lurch in Alberta if he thought that he’d have a chance to grab the federal Brass Ring. Least of all the UCP voters.
      And remember, he has no family, so there’s none of that tedious uprooting-of-the-kids etc.

      Reply
  13. tom

    December 12th, 2019

    If only Andrew Scheer lived in Alberta his kids would have their private schooling paid for by taxpayers.

    Reply
  14. Liam Young

    December 12th, 2019

    I’m sure you’re right and I’m sure Kenney will find a way to cheat at the federal level too.
    That said, he’ll be useless to the Cons at large because (a) he’s not bilingual and will get crushed in Quebec and (b) he’s only going to get seats where the Cons already got them, so no real net gain.
    I’m thinking Trudeau should ease out of the holidays with a whole bunch of background on Scheer’s ‘creative’ education funding, /maybe toss in an investigation into the hiring/employment of certain political consultants that railed against Trudeay for a year or so and was fundamental to the JWR nonsense and call a snap election some time around March.
    Easy majority.

    Reply
  15. Just Me

    December 13th, 2019

    Rona Ambrose will NOT enter the contest. Political leadership is extraordinarily toxic for women, and the CPC is the biggest cesspool of them all. And…Ambrose is a middle-aged woman who is childless and unmarried. (in the traditional sense) She is not known to be a church-goer, so she has no place in the leadership of the CPC.

    Which leaves…no one I can think of other than the angry midget premier from Alberta.

    Socon cred? Check.

    Likes to pick fights and loves being an attack dog? Check.

    Considers having lots and lots of enemies a good idea? Check.

    Has an extreme talent and desire for coming up with all kinds of strategies designed to destroy society’s social fabric? Check.

    Has a tendency to lie, even when he says that abortion is settled business in Canada? Check…and this maybe the only time that the socons are hoping that Kenney is lying.

    He’s a high risk candidate for the CPC, because the GTA, Quebec, and anywhere the CONs need to win in will become that much harder to build support in.

    As the CPC struggles to moderate itself, the pull from the socons will be extreme, the pull to end abortion, same-sex marriage, a host of social justice achievements. This will prove to be the makings of a vicious civil war among the CONs.

    How bad a civil war? The allegation that Scheer wrongly used CPC campaign funds is, I believe, friendly-fire from within the CPC itself. Scheer resisted leaving, so why not turn an prior approved agreement by the party to provide funds for the Scheer children’s education into an act of malfeasance?

    The socons have decided to seize control of the CPC and oust the ‘red tories’. This is only the beginning.

    Reply
    • Lars

      December 13th, 2019

      I’ll get the popcorn started…

      Reply
  16. Simon Renouf

    December 13th, 2019

    OK David I’ll bite. I just don’t see Kenney exchanging actually power (albeit in one province) to ride the pine in the opposition benches for four to eight years. Fun fact: the last provincial premier to become Prime Minister was . . . nobody (with a footnote for Sir John A who was premier of Canada before it was melded into, um, Canada).

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 14th, 2019

      Simon: The only provincial premier to become prime minister was Sir Charles Tupper, premier of the colony of Nova Scotia from May 1864 until Confederation and premier of the province of Nova Scotia, it seems, for two days, or maybe a day and a half, July 2 and 3, 1867. He was, however, obviously not elected to be a provincial premier. He was prime minister of Canada for 69 days in 1896, the shortest term on record. So, not an auspicious record, but a record of sorts just the same. I remain persuaded Mr. Kenney would like to be the first, but be that as it may, there are lots of candidates whose names are being bandied about right now. I will have more to say about that in the next few days. DJC

      Reply
  17. Bob Raynard

    December 13th, 2019

    A commenter a few days ago speculated that a draft Kenney movement will start, and I can certainly see it happening. If Kenney can orchestrate a kamikaze campaign, he can certainly work behind the scenes to arrange a ‘spontaneous’ draft Jason movement. Jason can then resist long enough to assure people he is only doing it for the good of Canada, like David says. This would also make winning the leadership process much smoother.

    Reply
  18. Bob Raynard

    December 13th, 2019

    Jason Kenney as leader of the CPC would be a guarantee of success for Justin Trudeau. Canadians already rejected Andrew Scheer’s climate change denying, social conservative vision for Canada. Having rejected it once, they are unlikely to embrace the same vision from a leader with Jason Kenney’s history of sleazy manipulations. Kenney got away with firing the election commissioner who was investigating him here in a deep state province, but the rest of Canada is not so forgiving of tin pot dictator behaviour. At least Andrew Scheer comes across as a likable person.

    Reply
  19. Abs

    December 13th, 2019

    There’s got to be a morning after, and here it is. Kenney has sent his stooge Adriana to threaten the CBE school trustees with her hammer. She’s going to fire them all!

    With Scheer gone, Kenney’s crew has come out swinging their hammers and making threats, before they head out on their European vacation, at Alberta taxpayer expense. Oh, holy night.

    Don’t you want to know who ratted Scheer out?

    Reply
  20. Jerrymacgp

    December 13th, 2019

    I think Mr Kenney has missed his chance. He needed the Cons to keep Mr Scheer on a couple of more years, so he could finish ruining Alberta before jumping ship to the federal arena and campaign to ruin the Rest of Canada instead. If he were to leave the Premiership now, it’d be such obviously crass opportunism he’d be pilloried by the punditocracy and slaughtered at the polls by CPC members.

    From the perspective of a Liberal Party strategist, the best outcome of the new leadership race would be for the Cons to elect the most repellently xenophobic, misogynistic, homo- & trans-phobic Neanderthal they can find… & Kenney, along with his good buddy Doug Ford, fits that bill perfectly. But for anyone who cares about Canadian politics, I think we’d all be better off if they chose a much more moderate, slightly right-of-centre “Progressive” conservative who accepts the need for credible climate action, and is also laisser faire on the social issues front — not one beholden to the Wilberforce Project, Campaign Life Coalition, and the rest of the forced-birth crowd. Who that might be, remains to be seen.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 14th, 2019

      As usual, Jerry, I agree with your ideas. The problem is that the people who need to follow your advice, ie the ones who will be voting for the leader, are more likely to be the climate change denying social conservatives who will vote for the candidate that best represents their views, not the one whose views can be converted into electoral success.

      The CPC’s argument in the 2015 election campaign was that Justin Trudeau was ‘just not ready’. Given the errors we saw Mr. Trudeau make in his first term, that assessment appears to have had some merit. As such, Justin Trudeau’s prime ministership was definitely ripe for the picking in October; I would have seriously considered a PROGRESSIVE Conservative like Joe Clark. What is the CPC to think of the message Canadians sent them, then, that they would prefer a lightweight like JT than a CPC government?

      I also expect that Justin Trudeau will learn from his first term mistakes and be harder to beat in 2023.

      Reply
  21. Dave

    December 13th, 2019

    How hapless could a leader be?

    Has he renounced his U.S. citizenship yet. I bet not.

    Can’t a guy making $259,000 per year pay for his own children’s private education? And if a person is interested in governing working people send his kids to the regular school system? As a Catholic he should be sending his kids to the Catholic school system.

    Reply
  22. Lars

    December 13th, 2019

    A dream scenario would be Kenney ditching the UCP to run for the CPC leadership, losing (due to an unlikely collective rush of sense to CPC heads), and coming back to Alberta to find Brian Jean ensconced firmly as the leader of the UCP and Premier.
    I’d like that.
    Even better would be all of this, and Kenney returning to Alberta to face charges from the RCMP of electoral malfeasance. I’d like that even better.

    Reply
  23. Andy M.

    December 13th, 2019

    Sorry, folk, we Albertans are stuck with Kenney. Remember old Stevey H? Well, he’s waiting in the wings, licking his chops.

    Reply
  24. Mike in Edmonton

    December 14th, 2019

    Andy M may have a point about Jason (aka King Ralph II) Kenney staying put. Not to ruin anyone’s weekend or anything, but a fellow named Michael Harris has a disturbing idea that would be even weirder than Prime Minister Jason “Ralph II” Kenney.

    Ready? Here it is: the return of Stephen Harper (cue ominous music) https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2019/12/12/Harper-Comeback/

    Personally, I don’t buy it. Harper’s much better off out of the limelight, where he can manoeuvre freely. (Munchkin Jason would be much easier to manipulate than an entire country.)

    Still, I can easily believe that Jason “Ralph II” is wishing mightily for a growing chorus of “Save us!” from the base. He might hear it, too, from Oilberduh and Saskatchewan.

    I totally agree that Lars’s dream scenario is the best possible outcome. My own dream scenario is:
    1) Jason “Ralph II” Kenney scrambles for the federal Con leadership
    2) he wins and THEN dumps the UCP
    3) a snap federal election by PMJT returns a Liberal minority with more Green support (I did say it’s a dream) and
    4) a dejected and depressed Jason “no longer King” Kenney returns to the US to pine away his days writing memoirs of how it should have been.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      December 15th, 2019

      I read the Tyee article you provided the link to, Mike. Thanks for providing it. The author does write a strong argument that Stephen Harper could be considering a political comeback, and that he remains a favorite with CPC party members. That shouldn’t be a surprise, however, since Harper created the party and the people who remain in it are his disciples.

      Something that was not addressed, however, is the subject of Stephen Harper’s electability with the general public. He was rejected in 2015, only managed to win a majority once during the ca 10 years of his prime ministership, when he faced a series of weak Liberal leaders, and recently the guy calling himself ‘Stephen Harper with a smile’ was rejected by voters when his opponent was in a weakened state.

      I also suspect that Jason Kenney could do/has done some serious damage to Stephen Harper’s electability. Remember how people used to suggest that Stephen Harper had a hidden agenda? It never surfaced while Mr. Harper had a minority government for the first 5 or 6 years of his prime ministership, and I suspect by the time he had a majority he had learned it would not be a good idea to implement it (but if he had won a second majority?…)

      I think that Jason Kenney is showing us what that hidden agenda would look like. Between his apparent feeling of invincibility from his strong mandate, and his combative nature, Kenney is showing us what Harper would have liked to do to the entire country. Kenney held off implementing a budget until after the federal election. The point has been made that Kenney’s Fair Deal Panel and other grandstanding events are serving as a distraction from the budget cuts he is making. After I read the Pressprogress story below, I am afraid the cuts controversy is also serving as a distraction from what Jason Kenney wants to do to our public school system.

      https://pressprogress.ca/kenney-government-appointed-foreign-koch-funded-researcher-to-rewrite-albertas-education-curriculum/

      Reply

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