Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole is naming his shadow cabinet, including his predecessor Andrew Scheer as the party’s infrastructure critic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Scheer remains on Conservatives’ front bench as party readies for Parliament

O’Toole didn’t have a long list of MPs who had challenged him for leadership to try and place on the front benches

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole unveiled Tuesday the list of who will sit on the Opposition front benches, ahead of the party’s first caucus meeting since he won the leadership race last month.

Wednesday’s gathering comes two weeks before the return of the House of Commons and the minority Liberal government’s throne speech laying out its priorities for the COVID-19 recovery in Canada.

O’Toole said Tuesday his own party’s plans won’t be far behind.

“In the coming weeks, we will be presenting a plan to put hardworking Canadians first, lead our nation out of this crisis and rebuild our great country,” he said in a statement.

In choosing those who will serve as critics for the Liberal government ministries, O’Toole picked a mix of loyal supporters, some who backed his rivals and several key players in the party who had remained entirely neutral in the leadership race.

Among them: his predecessor Andrew Scheer, who will serve as infrastructure critic; Ontario’s Pierre Poilievre, who remains as finance critic; and Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who will take on the health portfolio.

Ontario MP Michael Chong becomes the Conservatives’ critic for foreign affairs, considered one of the most high-profile portfolios.

That was the portfolio O’Toole himself was granted in 2017 after he lost the leadership race that year to Scheer.

Unlike Scheer, however, O’Toole didn’t have a long list of MPs who had challenged him for leadership to try and place on the front benches. There were only three other contenders, including only one other MP — Ontario’s Derek Sloan.

Sloan’s campaign had been primarily focused on winning support among social conservatives, though he secured no endorsements from MPs from that cohort of the party during the race.

A controversy over remarks he made about the country’s chief public health officer nearly saw him kicked out of caucus, and he ultimately finished last in the leadership contest.

He didn’t get a critic’s job.

But, O’Toole did acknowledge the supporters of his other rivals.

Two MPs who backed Leslyn Lewis, the Toronto lawyer who ran with the support of many social conservatives and finished in a strong third place, were given critic roles. Richard Bragdon, a New Brunswick MP who backed her bid will serve as the critic for fisheries, while Rosemarie Falk from Saskatchewan will be the critic for seniors.

Lewis herself has said she will run in the next election for the Conservatives.

ALSO READ: After MP’s offensive tweet, O’Toole says Tories will counter anti-Semitism

Several of those who backed Peter MacKay for leadership were given critics jobs, including some who had supported O’Toole in 2017 but switched sides this time around.

They include James Bezan, who O’Toole has left in place as defence critic and Todd Doherty, who was given a special position by O’Toole as an adviser on mental health issues.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said Tuesday that Quebecers need to scrutinize O’Toole.

He is against many of the province’s priorities, Blanchet said, including its support for medical assistance in dying, and its opposition to pipelines.

“We want Quebecers to really know him,” he said.

Blanchet, who had previously suggested his party was ready to trigger an election on the basis of the ethics scandals plaguing the Liberals, appeared to tone down his battle rhetoric Tuesday.

Speaking at his party’s own caucus meeting in St-Hyacinthe, Que., he put down some new markers, including a desire for the conclusion of the various ethics reports into the government’s decision to award the operation of a student grant program to the WE Charity, known for its ties to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family.

He said he also wants to see the Liberals put in place an amnesty for people who may have to pay back some of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit due to eligibility problems.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Conservative Party of Canada

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

Just Posted

The Dupras family has been regulars at the Babine River and have seen plentiful grizzlies over the years. (Jay Dupras photo/Lakes District News)
A family’s close encounter with a grizzly on Babine River bridge

Photo-enthusiasts let the bear access the bridge for photos putting others at risk

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

(Wet'suwet'en Access Point on Gidimt'en Territory Facebook screenshot)
Ceremony a right at proposed CGL pipeline drill site: BC Union of Indian Chiefs

Indigenous land defenders cannot be criminalized and targeted, argues UBCIC

(File graphic)
Man dies in Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh) after being taken into police custody

IIO and BC Corners Service conducting independent investigations

Dan Stuart (Christian Heritage Party - BC photo)
Strong values underpin Christian Heritage Party candidate

He’s also suspicious of the COVID-19 pandemic

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read