June 28, 2017

Andrew Scheer elected leader of Conservative Party

29 May 2017, 03:27 | Marie Dunn

Job 1 for next Tory leader: reuniting party after marathon leadership race

Former prime minister and Conservative party leader Stephen Harper speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington

For the first 12 rounds of counting Saturday night, the leader they were poised to elect was Maxime Bernier, a Quebec MP with a libertarian bent whose policy proposals included slaying sacred cows like supply management in agriculture and federal health care funding.

Andrew Scheer won the party leadership by the tiniest of margins, securing 51 per cent of the vote, to beat his main rival Maxime Bernier.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote on the first count, the last-place contender is eliminated and his or her supporters' second choices are counted.

Pierre Lemieux, a former MP from Ontario who ran championing socially conservative policies, dropped off in the 8th ballot, while Brad Trost hung in longer than many expected, dropping off on the 11th ballot.

In the aftermath of the 2015 election, which put the Conservatives in Opposition, Scheer gave serious thought to seeking the role of interim leader, which became available when Stephen Harper announced his resignation shortly after going down in defeat to the Liberals.

"To see Andrew win ... there are a lot of people who voted conservative in the last election who will be very happy with that, and there are a lot of people who didn't vote conservative in the last election who will be giving us a very close look with Andrew as leader", Lake said.

Yet his promise to leave behind divisive social issues could be made harder by the strong showing of the party's socially conservative base.

"I have no idea how Mr. Scheer will be able to capitalize on that kind of populist wind", Graves said.

What he also told us though, was that he wants to sell the positive side of conservatism - as a force for good in alleviating poverty and bringing about prosperity for all.

The nail-biting process of winnowing the field went down to the final 13th ballot before Scheer, 38, was declared the victor with 51 per cent of the available points, edging out longtime front-runner Maxime Bernier.

"Andrew, we're so proud of you".

Harper had led the party since the Canadian Alliance and Reform parties merged in 2004 and formed the minority government in 2006.

"He may be a relative young man but he's a dinosaur in terms of attitudes", said Peter Julian, a longtime New Democrat MP in the running for the top job.

"In Quebec, particularly, many voters went against Bernier", O'Leary told CTV News Channel. Should he win, he's said he'll spend the next year convincing party members to change their minds on the issue.

Most expect several rounds of counting to be required Saturday before a victor is declared.

Ambrose talked about her various battles with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in parliament and touted the party's success in getting the Trudeau government to recognise the genocide against the Yazidi people by Islamic State.

"The leader has to bring in those candidates who weren't successful and make sure non-supportive MPs are reassured of the new direction".

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