Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer. (The Canadian Press)

Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer. (The Canadian Press)

Conservative party’s fundraising boss takes over temporary helm of party

Jaime Girard is replacing Dustin Van Vugt

The director of fundraising for the federal Conservatives has taken over as acting executive director of the party as it continues to grapple with the fallout from the resignation of leader Andrew Scheer.

Jaime Girard is replacing Dustin Van Vugt, who left his job as executive director earlier this month over questions about party funds used for Scheer’s personal expenses.

Girard jumps into the new role at a crucial time for the party — figuring out how to run the race to select Scheer’s replacement.

Scheer announced on Dec. 12 that he will step down as leader as soon as a new one is chosen, a move that came after weeks of intense criticism of the way the party fared in the fall election, despite the fact it increased its overall seat count and share of the popular vote.

Campaigns to oust Scheer reached a fever pitch in the days leading up to his announcement, including word circulating that his children’s private school tuition was paid for with party money — details that surprised some members of the party’s main fundraising arm, the Conservative Fund.

Girard has spent more than a decade serving as director of fundraising for the Conservative party, a position that would have placed her into close contact with the Fund’s board.

The board includes former prime minister Stephen Harper, Conservative Sen. Linda Frum, and, as the current director, retired Conservative senator Irving Gerstein. Gerstein is expected to step back from his role running the board next year.

While the Fund sets the party’s budget, some members were not fully aware of the details of Scheer’s spending. The deal to cover tuition costs for Scheer’s children was struck between him and Van Vugt, who had called it standard practice.

“All proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people,” he said in a statement the same day Scheer stepped down.

But some members of the Fund disagreed. Van Vugt subsequently left the job.

Replacing him with Girard was one of a series of decisions adopted by the party’s national council on Friday as they seek to sort out the mess created by Scheer and Van Vugt’s departure.

Another: punting April’s planned policy convention to November in order to free up more room to organize the leadership race.

The committee who will be in charge of that is expected to be named in the coming days. They’ll in turn have to sort out when and where the vote will take place, and the rules for it, including the entry fee and number of signatures required to run.

Though several people — including former Quebec premier Jean Charest and former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose — have signalled an interest in running for the leadership, all are waiting for clarity on the rules and deadlines before they commit. Other potential contenders include current Conservative MPs and former cabinet ministers Pierre Poilievre, Erin O’Toole and Michael Chong, as well as former MPs and cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and James Moore.

Meanwhile, there is ongoing debate about the scope of Scheer’s expense accounts.

Scheer’s office has repeatedly said they have “nothing to add” when asked for clarification about how Scheer used the money, the decision to fire Van Vugt, or whether he’ll support a line-by-line review of his expenses.

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

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)
Wolf Creek and Wetaskiwin school boards ‘reassured’ by letter from LaGrange

Boards urge the Alberta government to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples

A new gym is just one of several new projects that are being completed at Rimbey Christian School currently.
Leah Bousfield/Rimbey Review
Rimbey Christian School building projects nearing completion

New gym, soccer field and skating rink will be open to community use as well

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read