Conservative MP Andrew Scheer listens to a question after announcing he will run for the leadership of the Conservative party Wednesday September 28, 2016 in Ottawa. Scheer is accusing possible candidate Kevin O’Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative Leader Scheer dismisses two top staff in wake of election loss

Martin Belanger and Simon Jefferies will fill the respective posts on an interim basis

Federal Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer dismissed two of his top aides on Saturday as he and his party grapple with the fallout of what many see as a disappointing performance in last month’s election.

Scheer announced the changes in a morning letter to caucus, saying chief of staff Marc-Andre Leclerc and communications director Brock Harrison have been relieved of their duties effective immediately.

Martin Belanger and Simon Jefferies will fill the respective posts on an interim basis until full-time replacements can be found.

Scheer did not spell out reasons for the dismissals in his letter, saying only that personnel changes were being made as the party prepares to assume an active role in the liberal-led minority parliament.

“We have an important job to do – holding Justin Trudeau and his corrupt Liberal government to account – and when we do that job well, we will be ready to replace him when the next election comes,” the letter said.

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

The changes come at a time when both the party and Scheer are facing tough questions following the results of the Oct. 21 election.

Scheer was widely perceived as a front-runner following the SNC-Lavalin affair that was believed to have dimmed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chances at re-election. Victory seemed still more plausible after images surfaced earlier in the campaign depicting Trudeau in blackface.

But polls consistently showed that Scheer was unable to gain a meaningful edge, with the Liberals and Conservatives running in a dead heat throughout the campaign.

And while the Conservatives gained seats on election day, few of them came in the seat-rich battlegrounds of Quebec and Ontario. The Liberals now form a minority government with the Conservatives maintaining their status as the official opposition.

Word of the staffing changes came as Scheer toured the Atlantic provinces, partially to gather feedback from party members.

Both of the dismissed staffers issued Facebook posts acknowledging the personnel changes and thanking Scheer for his support over the years.

“Of course, the results of October 21 are not what I expected,” Leclerc wrote. “But they do not reflect all the efforts our team made before and during the campaign.”

Leclerc said he would now be retiring from politics after spending the past 10 years in the field.

“I wish nothing but success to my former colleagues in the months ahead,” wrote Harrison, who once worked for Alberta’s now-defunct Wildrose party. ”We all poured ourselves into this campaign, and while I am part of changes that had to be made, I hope you all continue on with your eyes on the prize.”

Questions around Scheer’s own job continue to swirl as the house prepares to resume in two weeks time.

His fate will be decided at a leadership review in April 2020.

Michelle McQuigge, 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

76 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday

Active cases at 1,036, 10,713 recovered cases

COVID-19 tests urged for all teachers and school staff

121 new cases Wednesday, active cases up to 1,040

Alberta’s active COVID-19 cases continue to trend downwards

85 new cases Tuesday, active cases sit at 1,004

Rimbey FCSS prepares back-to-school Kits for Kids program

Program helps families access needed school supplies

Charges likely in fatal attack at central Alberta medical clinic: RCMP

A vigil was held Monday night to mourn the victim

Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools receive grant from Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

WRPS has received $15,975 from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Three people drown at Crescent Falls

Rocky Mountain House RCMP say the incident occurred Tuesday

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Most Read