Conservative MP Andrew Scheer listens to a question after announcing he will run for the leadership of the Conservative party Wednesday September 28, 2016 in Ottawa. Scheer is accusing possible candidate Kevin O’Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative MP Andrew Scheer listens to a question after announcing he will run for the leadership of the Conservative party Wednesday September 28, 2016 in Ottawa. Scheer is accusing possible candidate Kevin O’Leary of trying to avoid an all-French debate in two weeks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Conservative Leader Scheer dismisses two top staff in wake of election loss

Martin Belanger and Simon Jefferies will fill the respective posts on an interim basis

Federal Conservative party Leader Andrew Scheer dismissed two of his top aides on Saturday as he and his party grapple with the fallout of what many see as a disappointing performance in last month’s election.

Scheer announced the changes in a morning letter to caucus, saying chief of staff Marc-Andre Leclerc and communications director Brock Harrison have been relieved of their duties effective immediately.

Martin Belanger and Simon Jefferies will fill the respective posts on an interim basis until full-time replacements can be found.

Scheer did not spell out reasons for the dismissals in his letter, saying only that personnel changes were being made as the party prepares to assume an active role in the liberal-led minority parliament.

“We have an important job to do – holding Justin Trudeau and his corrupt Liberal government to account – and when we do that job well, we will be ready to replace him when the next election comes,” the letter said.

ALSO READ: Scheer facing new kind of civil war brewing within the Conservative party

The changes come at a time when both the party and Scheer are facing tough questions following the results of the Oct. 21 election.

Scheer was widely perceived as a front-runner following the SNC-Lavalin affair that was believed to have dimmed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chances at re-election. Victory seemed still more plausible after images surfaced earlier in the campaign depicting Trudeau in blackface.

But polls consistently showed that Scheer was unable to gain a meaningful edge, with the Liberals and Conservatives running in a dead heat throughout the campaign.

And while the Conservatives gained seats on election day, few of them came in the seat-rich battlegrounds of Quebec and Ontario. The Liberals now form a minority government with the Conservatives maintaining their status as the official opposition.

Word of the staffing changes came as Scheer toured the Atlantic provinces, partially to gather feedback from party members.

Both of the dismissed staffers issued Facebook posts acknowledging the personnel changes and thanking Scheer for his support over the years.

“Of course, the results of October 21 are not what I expected,” Leclerc wrote. “But they do not reflect all the efforts our team made before and during the campaign.”

Leclerc said he would now be retiring from politics after spending the past 10 years in the field.

“I wish nothing but success to my former colleagues in the months ahead,” wrote Harrison, who once worked for Alberta’s now-defunct Wildrose party. ”We all poured ourselves into this campaign, and while I am part of changes that had to be made, I hope you all continue on with your eyes on the prize.”

Questions around Scheer’s own job continue to swirl as the house prepares to resume in two weeks time.

His fate will be decided at a leadership review in April 2020.

Michelle McQuigge, 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

Duncan’s Knights of Columbus hand out cheques to a slew of deserving organizations in an online event Nov. 8, 2020. (Submitted)
Duncan Knights of Columbus hand cheques to lucky 13 in virtual event

Another historic first for the Knights was to have two area mayors join the presentation

Changes to the holidays due to COVID-19 will be a challenge for people with dementia. (Shalu Mehta/News Staff)
Webinars aim to help those with dementia approach holidays

“The holidays can present difficulties for people living with dementia for a multitude of reasons”

Theresa Bodger at the Duncan Curling Club, displaying the championship trophy and a photo of her mom, Georgina Falt. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Cowichan Alzheimer’s fundraiser surpasses $65,000 since inception

Courier editor and his wife overwhelmed by continued support

“Jeff Abbott sinks in a mass of mud where a tributary to Coon Creek earlier ran. The creek supplies 60 families in Youbou with drinking water.” (Lake News, Nov. 19, 1980)
Flashback: Winter tires, winter weather, watershed watch

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan

Duncan’s Callum Davison is up for a bursary from the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. (Submitted)
Duncan golfer Callum Davison up for national bursary

20-year-old finished fifth in Canada Life Series this summer

Numuch Keitlah, left, and Jake Thomas, centre, participate in a Coastal Nations search and rescue exercise off the coast of Vancouver Island in this undated handout photo. The recently operational Coastal Nations Coast Guard Auxiliary has more than 50 members from five Indigenous territories who are trained in marine search and rescue. They are on call day and night to respond to emergencies along some of B.C.’s most rugged and remote coastal areas. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Jordan Wilson *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Canada’s first Indigenous-led coast guard auxiliary patrols B.C.’s rugged coast

Auxiliary is part of the feds’ $1.5 billion plan to improve marine safety and protect the environment

An Oceana Canada audit of Canadian fish stocks reveals a growing number with critical populations, calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada to enact existing commitments. (File photo)
B.C.’s declining fisheries the result of poor DFO management: audit

Oceana Canada calls for follow through on government commitments

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Randy Bell. (File photo)
Former northern B.C. mayoral candidate arrested after allegedly refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Smithers

James Corden on the Late Late Show talking about BC Ferries on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Screenshot)
‘You’ll see it when you see it’: BC Ferries mask graphic gains James Corden’s attention

Turns out, James Corden fans were just as quick as B.C. social media users to pick up on the dual imagery

Andrew Wilkinson addresses a BC Liberal Forestry Rally in Campbell River on Oct. 17, 2020.
Andrew Wilkinson quits as BC Liberal Leader, party to choose interim replacement

Wilkinson had previously said he would stay in his role till a new leader were to be selected

Most Read