Andrew Scheer: Family man, career politician, prime minister?

Andrew Scheer: Family man, career politician, prime minister?

Who is Andrew Scheer? It’s been a question that’s hung around the Conservative leader since he took the reins of that party back in 2017.

In the run up to, and through the 2019 election, the Conservative campaign team has been building the image of Scheer as a regular dad in contrast to the big personality of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.

Murray Mandryk, political columnist with the Regina Leader Post, said that matches up with Scheer’s personal life.

“I think he comes across as a family man and he’s sincere about that. You run into to him in town and he’s often out and about at family events,” he said.

According to University of Regina Political Science department head Jim Farney, it’s an image that can play well with the Conservative base.

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“We brand politicians and one of the brands Conservatives like is that ordinary, kind of hockey dad image because it works and it appeals to their voters,” Farney said.

For the abridged Scheer biography, he grew up in a middle class Ottawa family. He also attended post-secondary at the University of Ottawa where he met his future wife, Jill Ryan.

During his studies, Scheer picked up work as a political staffer.

The two eventually moved to Ryan’s hometown of Regina to start their family. Here, Scheer briefly worked in insurance before entering elected politics.

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Mandryk said this is where we see some similarities between people like Scheer and Trudeau. These are two people that are “born and bred into politics” and work a number of “stopgap” jobs on their way to elected office.

Scheer’s road from the working world to Parliament Hill was shorter than Trudeau’s. He became one of the youngest first-time MPs in 2006, unseating longtime NDP MP Lorne Nystrom, winning Regina Qu’Appelle at the age of 25.

The Regina MP then went on to become the youngest Speaker of the House in 2011 at the age of 32.

Here, Scheer showed an admiration for the institution of parliament in Farney’s view. However, it creates some difficulty in pushing the average guy image.

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“It’s hard to run as a Conservative and an Ottawa insider, and Scheer’s clearly both,” Farney said.

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“Whereas for Trudeau, I think it’s easier to be a member of the eastern Canadian elite – which he clearly is – and this kind of super engaging, super charismatic person who feels comfortable in that.”

It’s this part of Scheer’s character where we see the biggest divergence from the average dad image.

“He is a hard-nosed, partisan politician. So where the person stops and the politician starts is always a tough defining line,” Mandryk said.

“I think he is very much a dad, and you kind of see that image that he portrays as the average guy but he’s also pretty political.”

Prime Minister Scheer?

So yes, Scheer is a football, Star Wars and Simpsons loving dad that is also a career politician.

Western alienation has been a pronounced theme of the campaign, and as a Regina MP, what could Prime Minister Scheer mean for the region?

Farney said we would see a bigger natural resource push, but is doubtful something like the Trans Mountain expansion would be complete.

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“To be honest, with many of the pipeline barriers being legal or jurisdictional I’m still not sure we’ll see one,” Farney said.

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On top of a resource focus, Farney anticipates greater provincial autonomy. This could be something the Saskatchewan government would be pleased with after taking Ottawa to court over the Liberal price on carbon.

“One of the features of the Trudeau government is this preference for national programs. I think you’d see a decentralization under Scheer,” Farney said.

Earlier in the campaign, controversy stirred around Scheer’s devout Catholic faith and how he would handle issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

For Mandryk, the biggest concern he has with Scheer potentially becoming prime minister is how he would handle equalization.

When the Harper Conservatives were in opposition, Scheer was among the MPs voicing strong support for removing non-renewable resource revenue from the equalization formula. This would have dramatically changed how equalization dollars were distributed.

However, when the Tories took power the talk of this idea fell off among Conservatives including Scheer.

“I’m a little bit more nervous about having seen that in Andrew Scheer’s past than just about anything else I’ve heard from him this particular election campaign,” Mandryk said.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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