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

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Community Christmas Eve Dinner cancelled

The 20th anniversary of the Community Christmas Eve dinner is cancelled amidst COVID-19 concerns

The consensus around the Sylvan Lake council chamber Wednesday was the town does not have the ability to properly enforce a proposed mandatory indoor mask bylaw. File Photo
Sylvan Lake town council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

Sylvan Lake RCMP are looking for the identity of the suspect who stole from over 40 resident mail boxes. (Photo Courtesy of Sylvan Lake RCMP)
Over 40 mailboxes broken into at Sylvan Lake apartment building

Sylvan Lake RCMP are investigating the incident and searching for the identity of the suspect

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read