MP McLeod, others rallying behind new Conservative leader

While Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod's preferred candidate didn't make it, she is joining other Conservatives in rallying behind new leader Andrew Scheer.

McLeod was among those at the Conservative convention in Toronto on Saturday that saw Scheer come out on top, edging out presumed favourite Maxime Bernier on the final ballot.

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McLeod, along with a large number of her colleagues, had publicly backed MP Erin O'Toole in the leadership race to succeed Stephen Harper.

Rona Ambrose had been interim leader since the October 2015 federal election.

O'Toole was the last candidate to drop off the ballot before the final count between Scheer and Bernier.

"He's got the reputation as a nice guy, but is an astute and thoughtful politician," McLeod said of Scheer, 38, whom she has known since she was elected in 2008.

Scheer, who has spent most of his adult life in politics, predates her as an MP by four years.

McLeod said now is time to introduce Scheer to the country and to rally behind the new leader.

"This morning was for caucus to come together as a family," she said of the first meeting with Scheer as new leader of the Conservatives.

McLeod said she welcomes Scheer's principles, which include smaller government and lower taxation.

Scheer ran on a platform of balancing the federal budget. But some of his ideas are controversial, including axing CBC News and giving tax breaks to parents who send children to private school. He opposes carbon taxes, as do most of his colleagues.

Local NDP member and former federal candidate Bill Sundhu said he wishes Scheer well for the good of the country.

But he said the Conservatives are borrowing from Donald Trump and the mantra of cutting government services.

He called Scheer a social conservative who could bring back issues opposing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

"I think we're seeing a continuation of Trump-like politics in the Conservative party," Sundhu said.

"In many ways, the party is not Progressive Conservative -- they've moved to the right. Mr. Scheer's been a social conservative in past."

McLeod said she would like to bring Scheer to the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding as early as this summer or within the next two years. She said her party will adopt its policies from the grassroots, focusing on a policy convention next year.

Those ideas will set the stage for the next federal election in 2019.

© Kamloops This Week



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