Nearly 19 months after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped down from losing the 2015 federal election, the Conservative Party membership has voted Andrew Scheer as its new permanent party leader.
The final results were announced just after 8 pm EDT at the Conservative leadership convention held at the Toronto Congress Centre. On the 13th ballot, Scheer won 51% of the votes, beating front-runner Maxime Bernier’s 49%.
Television personality Kevin O’Leary, who made a late entry into the race in January, was still technically on the ballot, although he dropped out of running last month to back Bernier. A total of 13 candidates were in the race.
During his victory speech, Scheer targeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spending and taxation policies, promising to repeal the “cash grab” and “job-killing” Liberal carbon tax and scrap GST and HST on home electricity.
He also criticized Trudeau’s apparent focus on photo-ops and selfies instead of creating policies that generate prosperity for lower- and middle-class Canadians.
“Sunny ways won’t pay the bills,” he said. “We have to get a grip on this out of control spending. It’s not fair to future generations of Canadians.”
“One of the things that has motivated me so much in this campaign is the very strong belief that I cannot allow Justin Trudeau to do the same thing to my five children that his father did to my generation.”
He vowed to withhold federal grants from universities who “shut down debate and can’t stand different points of view.”
Scheer, 38, was first elected as Conservative MP for Regina-Qu’Appelle in 2004, and he went on to win four re-election campaigns in the riding. He was the Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015, making him the youngest person to serve the role in the history of the Canadian parliament.
Up until today, Rona Ambrose was the party’s interim leader, a role she took on after Trudeau won office.
The next federal election is scheduled for October 21, 2019.