Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer participates in an interview reflecting on the 2019 Federal election, in Ottawa, on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Possible to hold socially conservative views and be prime minister: Scheer

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he knows his future is not guaranteed

Andrew Scheer remains convinced that a prime minister can hold conservative views on divisive issues like same-sex marriage and abortion and still be trusted by Canadians not to impose them on the country.

But the Conservative leader also knows that if those views prove to be the reason he failed Monday to convince voters otherwise, they could cost him his job.

In an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, Scheer said a wide-ranging analysis is now underway into what worked and what didn’t for his party in an election that kept them relegated to Opposition status despite the myriad scandals that have plagued Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government.

“I believe you can have both of those positions: you can have a personal view and you can acknowledge that in Canada, the prime minister does not impose a particular viewpoint on Canadians,” he said of his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

In other words, while it’s no secret where he stands, his personal opinions should be beside the point.

“I believe that Canadians understand that any number of people can have a different point of view on these issues. What’s important to them is to know whether a prime minister will make changes or seek to make changes,” he said.

“And my assurances to Canadians was that as prime minister, these types of debates would not be re-opened.”

Still, the Conservative campaign was badly bruised over the course of the 40-day campaign for failing to mount a robust rebuttal whenever Scheer’s rivals sought to exploit his deeply held convictions.

ALSO READ: Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP and Bloc hold cards close

The pummelling from other party leaders, pundits and the media went on for a week before Scheer plainly stated his pro-life perspective. His position on gay marriage remains murky: it has evolved since 2005, when he gave a speech in the House of Commons that the Liberals exploited before the campaign to great effect, but precisely how remains unclear.

Those criticisms are now being funnelled back to Scheer as the internal campaign post-mortem continues. But there’s an external one as well — the Conservative membership will gather in April to decide whether he should stay on as leader.

Scheer said he knows his future is not guaranteed.

He expected to be held accountable, he said, and he’s glad the tough questions are being asked by both Conservative MPs and the party’s grassroots. He said he will point to the bright lights: an increase in seats and a historic win in terms off the popular vote.

“My message to them will be: we have made improvements, we have made gains. It is not satisfactory, we need to do better, but that I and my team, we are focused on finding out what worked and what didn’t, and how to improve next time. We are going to be looking at all aspects of this.”

Scheer’s social conservativism was a perpetual line of attack from the Liberals during the campaign, a race whose tone and negativity Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said this week he regrets.

Scheer dismissed Trudeau’s comments as insincere.

The Tories had launched negative attacks of their own on Trudeau, including circulating unfounded innuendo about Trudeau’s time as a teacher, and making up a claim that the Liberals and NDP were conspiring to hike the GST in order to finance their promises.

Those attacks weren’t offside, Scheer insisted, but will nonetheless be examined as part of the party’s internal review.

“Our campaign ended up with results that we are not satisfied with,” he said.

“So we’re going to be going back and taking a look at what did resonate and what didn’t, but at the same time I think it’s appropriate to point out the false statements that another leader is making.”

Scheer said he has spoken since Monday with former prime minister Stephen Harper, who has been talking with many senior Conservatives this week for a debriefing. The party is framing the results as akin to Harper’s first election as Conservative leader in 2004, when he too reduced the Liberal government to a minority.

Harper would go on to win his own minority in 2006, clinching a majority five years later.

As for how long the Liberals will hold on to power, Scheer said he wants to hear a throne speech that lays out a plan to get natural resources to market, and an acknowledgment that deficit spending needs to get under control.

In other words, he said, the fate of the government lies with Trudeau himself.

“We’ll see what he comes forward with,” Scheer said, citing concerns the Tories have had with the way Trudeau acted in the last Parliament, including shutting down inquiries into the SNC Lavalin affair.

“We’ll see what type of attitude he has towards the work that Parliament can do.”

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

Pitt Meadows technology to help grow leafy greens in Okanagan

Cubic Farms sold 16 of its machines to a company in Armstrong, B.C.

Maple Ridge mom wants justice on two-year anniversary of daughter’s death

Megan Kinnee, 19, died July 13, 2018 after motorcycle crash in Abbotsford

Maple Ridge neighbourhood rallies together for Saturday garage sale

Event aimed to bring Albion residents together – but not too close – while the financially strapped

Farmers market returns to downtown Maple Ridge

Next Saturday, July 18 people can shop at the newly reconfigured market in Memorial Peace Park

Ridge Meadows RCMP catch three more impaired drivers overnight

Local Mounties served 80 impaired driving infractions in June

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

Most Read