North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney knew something was going on when she stepped out of the House of Commons Thursday to call someone and noticed the lobby filling up with Conservatives.
“I knew something was up!” Blaney said.
What was about to happen was Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announcing his resignation as party leader. Scheer rose in the House Thursday to announce his resignation after rejecting calls to step down in the months following his party’s loss in the October federal election.
Some Conservatives were placing blame for the loss at the feet of Scheer after the party failed to capitalize on the governing Liberals’ ethics record as well as the revelations of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s repeated blackface incidents as a young man. The Conservatives cut into the Liberals’ majority position, reducing them to a minority government but not defeating them.
Blaney said she was “completely surprised” by the announcement. She knew there were some challenges to his leadership but wasn’t expecting him to step down at this time. Blaney said the reasons for his resignation can really only be known to him and his party insiders but he expressed a desire to spend more time with his family.
“I can only say that I know some of his caucus; some of the Conservative members across Canada have expressed concern about his leadership,” Blaney said. “They were hoping the Conservatives would form the government, we know they did not and so I guess that he had to make a decision that was best for himself and for those he loves the most, his family.”
She realizes that, like most party leaders, he cares about his organization and wanted to do what was best for the party.
For the NDP, nothing is changed by this decision, Blaney said. Scheer continues to be the Parliamentary leader.
“For us, we just continue on as we have as one of the opposition parties, we’re not the official opposition and we’ll continue to do our work with the MPs that were elected for the New Democrats,” Blaney said.
Blaney said she did get a chance to shake hands with Scheer afterwards and wish him all the best.
“At the end of the day, public service is a lot of work and we respect that work. We may not agree on the details. There may be things we hold different opinions about and perhaps do differently but there was still that opportunity to express respect,” she said.