The Canadian Press
OTTAWA–Despite a summer that saw Andrew Scheer lose a prominent member of the Conservative party, he tried to fire up his caucus yesterday by introducing its newest member.
Scheer told the Conservative caucus he is proud to welcome former Liberal MP Leona Alleslev, who made the stunning announcement Monday that she is leaving the governing Liberals to join their federal rivals.
“It’s great to see all of you again, and even better, it’s great to see more of you than the last time we were here,” said Scheer.
He highlighted Alleslev’s decision to cross the floor and flagged Richard Martel’s recent byelection victory for the Conservatives in Quebec.
But there was no mention of Maxime Bernier, the Quebec MP who announced Aug. 23 he was leaving the Conservative party and starting his own political movement–calling his former leader and colleagues “intellectually and morally corrupt” as he slammed the door on his way out.
Conservatives were livid at Bernier’s move and have argued that adding another party on the right side of the political spectrum will split the vote and allow the Liberals to easily win another majority government.
But if Scheer is harbouring any worry over Bernier’s power-play move, it did not show yesterday.
Instead, Scheer focused on Alleslev, calling the Toronto-area MP accomplished, principled, and courageous–qualities he said don’t count for much “if you’re a Liberal.”
“But as Conservatives, we know them when we see them and we know that Canada needs them, too,” he remarked.
Scheer presented Alleslev with an official Conservative party membership card.
For her part, Alleslev thanked caucus for making her feel “valued,” and said she is overwhelmed by the support she has received from her constituents and the public.
“Canadians know that the world has changed dramatically in the last three years and our country, especially now, needs strong federal leadership,” she said.
She added that leadership is “more than just saying what you think people want to hear. It’s more than just acting in a position.”
Alleslev said her concerns about the Liberal government’s handling of crucial files such as the economy and trade were met with silence, prompting her to leave.