Canada’s Scheer quits as Tory leader after failing to defeat Trudeau

Stephen Wicary

Justin Trudeau’s main rival is stepping down as Conservative Party leader after failing to unseat the Canadian prime minister in October’s election.

Andrew Scheer called a special caucus meeting Thursday morning in Ottawa, where he informed lawmakers of his decision to resign. He later confirmed his departure in a speech to the House of Commons.

“I made this decision because it’s the best thing for our party,” Scheer said, before receiving a standing ovation in the Ottawa legislature.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, shakes hands with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer after his remarks at Hanukkah on the Hill celebrations in Ottawa, Ontario, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019.

A career politician and former speaker of the House of Commons, Scheer was a compromise candidate to lead Canada’s main opposition party in 2017 after the departure of Stephen Harper, who governed for nearly a decade as prime minister until his defeat to Trudeau two years earlier.

Scheer’s attempt to frame this fall’s election as a national referendum on Trudeau was unsuccessful, despite a string of scandals and fatigue over the Liberal leader’s perceived penchant for style over substance.

While the Conservatives reduced Trudeau’s Liberal Party to a minority and won the popular vote, they secured only 121 seats in the legislature, compared with 157 for the Liberals. That’s allowed the prime minister to govern with the support of other opposition parties.

Scheer said he will remain a member of parliament for Saskatchewan, and stay on as party leader until a new head in chosen, likely at the party’s convention in April.