Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer speaks to reporters during an end of session media availability on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Scheer isn’t saying whether he’ll condemn online news outlet the Rebel for its coverage of last weekend’s deadly Charlottesville protests. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer speaks to reporters during an end of session media availability on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Scheer isn’t saying whether he’ll condemn online news outlet the Rebel for its coverage of last weekend’s deadly Charlottesville protests. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Scheer facing new kind of civil war brewing within the Conservative party

Conservatives will soon announce who they’ve hired to conduct their campaign post-mortem

Signs are pointing to a civil war breaking out within the Conservative party, but breaking down along different lines than past internal battles that divided the party ideologically.

At its heart a single question: is Andrew Scheer personally and solely to blame for the failure of the party to capture a majority in last week’s vote?

The Conservatives will soon announce who they’ve hired to conduct their campaign post-mortem to officially answer that question, but analysis is well underway — some of it very publicly.

Former Conservative spokeswoman Sara MacIntyre used Twitter to blast Scheer’s socially conservative views, while Dennis Matthews, one of the party’s former ad whizzes, did a deep dive into questions around campaign and Conservative branding.

At the grassroots level, one Conservative has launched an online petition calling on Scheer to resign, while hundreds of others have peppered Scheer’s social media pages with pledges of allegiance, laying the loss at the feet of the media and the electoral system, among other things.

Some former Conservative MPs have also spoken out publicly about the results, attaching negative outcomes to Scheer’s anti-abortion views. At the same time, the anti-abortion Campaign Life Coalition released an analysis Thursday suggesting candidates they supported did better than those they didn’t.

“If Andrew Scheer had allowed the nomination of, and even actively sought out, more pro-life nomination candidates, the Conservative party could have potentially won significantly more seats than 121,” the coalition said.

ALSO READ: Possible to hold socially conservative views and be prime minister, Scheer says

Behind closed doors, Conservatives are chewing over different things: why their storied ground game failed to deliver, why there were no communications strategies at the ready to tackle known points of weakness, and why Scheer and others raised public expectations that a majority was even in the cards when it was clear internally it wasn’t.

Altogether, there’s now a frenzy of speculation around the future of Scheer and the party that some insiders say is completely overblown, noting neither the Liberals nor NDP are seeing the same focus on their futures despite both having disappointing election results.

But some of that frenzy is being whipped up by a man long-thought to want to lead the Conservatives: Peter MacKay. MacKay was at the helm of the Progressive Conservatives when they merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the modern day Conservative party in 2004.

He didn’t take a run at leading the new party then — the job went to Stephen Harper — but MacKay’s decision to come out swinging this week against how Scheer ran his campaign revved up the rumour mill yet again that he’s preparing a bid.

MacKay delivered a blistering critique of Scheer on Wednesday, calling his social conservative values a “stinking albatross” around his neck that cost the party the election, an opportunity MacKay likened to “having a breakaway on an open net and missing the net.”

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, MacKay tweeted his support for Scheer, saying his comments were aimed at helping the party improve to win the next election.

“Reports of me organizing (are) false,” MacKay wrote.

For nearly a decade after the Conservative party was formed, Harper worked to pull together the two factions of the party into a unified voice, an effort that many credit to him as his true legacy to the country.

Today, the fights between the old Alliance and PCs are a thing of the past, said Garry Keller, a former senior Conservative staffer.

The fights over the party’s results last week come from different camps: those who think Scheer himself is to blame and those who are looking at the campaign as a whole — its tactics, strategy and policy, he said.

They are conversations that need to be had, but thoughtfully and over time.

“While people are both in private and in public talking about what do we need to do better the main thing is everyone needs to take a deep breath,” Keller said.

“It’s fun to vent, but it is actually not helpful in the long-term to the Conservative cause.”

Scheer knew as soon as he saw the results on election night that he’ll face a leadership review at the party’s spring convention — it’s mandatory if a leader fails to win a majority government. But when caucus meets for the first time next Tuesday he will face a first test: whether his team of MPs choose to exercise their power under the Reform Act of 2014 and give themselves the authority to launch a leadership review of their own.

The meeting will be presided over by Cheryl Gallant, who has the distinction of being the party’s longest serving member of Parliament, a baton she inherited after the former “dean” of the caucus, Deepak Obhrai, died over the summer.

Scheer’s main goal will be to get his caucus onside. He’ll give a speech peppered with themes he covered on election night and since: look at the upside. A lead in the popular vote. An increase in seats. That the 2019 Conservative caucus is only three seats shy of how many MPs were elected in the 2006 election campaign that gave Harper his first government.

Scheer will likely also point to the fundraising numbers released Thursday that show the Tories continue to lead the way, bringing in $10.1 million in the third quarter of 2019.

“These results mean we’re in the best position for the next election. It allows us to pay off election debt quicker, and maintain a level of election readiness no other party will be able to match,” said Dustin van Vugt, the party’s executive director, in an email.

By comparison, however, that’s just $61,000 more than they raised just ahead of the 2015 campaign.

And in 2019, they had fewer donors than that period of time in 2015 as well.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ottawa serial killer Camille Joseph Cleroux died of natural causes at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution on Sunday.
Serial killer housed at Abbotsford’s Pacific Institution dies of natural causes

Camille Joseph Cleroux announced dead on Sunday, known as notorious Ottawa serial killer

A peregrine falcon nest sits atop the walls of a quarry where the owner wants to restart operations. The province has now given permission for the nest to be removed. (Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
Company gets OK to remove rare peregrine falcon nest from Abbotsford quarry

Province says it is satisfied with falcon population estimates and mitigation plans

Abbotsford’s Hailey Maurice, shown here with the Fraser Valley Rush, has committed to the MacEwan University Griffins women’s hockey team. (Tiffany Luke photo)
Abbotsford’s Hailey Maurice signs with MacEwan University Griffins

Local women’s hockey prospect set to join women’s hockey team later this year

This urn was found Jan. 4 at a Yale Road bus stop and has now been returned to its owner. (RCMP photo)
RCMP find custodian of urn that was left at Chilliwack bus stop

Police say the urn contained the remains of a family’s cat

Abbotsford’s Canwest Aero Inc. is offering two pilot training scholarships to celebrate the company’s opening at the Abbotsford International Airport
Abbotsford aviation company offering two free pilot scholarships

Canwest Aero Inc. giving away pair of scholarships valued at $2,500 each

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

A handgun seized by Surrey RCMP. (Photo: Police handout)
Crime Stoppers received 500+ tips about Metro Vancouver guns, gang activity in 2020: report

Metro Vancouver organization ‘urging local residents to keep providing anonymous tips’

Most Read