Andrew Scheer’s recent shadow cabinet shuffle was newsworthy only in that it reminded us that the newly-minted Conservative Party leader isn’t dead.
But he isn’t all that alive, either. Scheer exists in some sort of political limbo, nether here nor there. Among other things, he’s remarkably unremarkable. He’s a nobody, doing nothing. He is the un-leader.
I’m not alone in my total indifference to the new Conservative leader. According to Eric Grenier, who aggregates polls for CBC: “Andrew Scheer’s honeymoon as the leader of the Conservative Party is the worst any new party leader has experienced in 14 years, as the Conservatives are only marginally more popular today than they were when Scheer won the party’s top job three months ago.”
And: “In polls conducted over the three months since Scheer was named leader, the Conservatives have averaged 32.1 per cent support. That’s 1.3 points higher than the Conservatives’ average poll support in the three months prior to the May 27 leadership vote.”
And: “That score is below the average increase of 2.3 points experienced by past leaders since 1956, when comparing average support three months before and three months after a new leader is put in place.
“It is even further behind the average leadership bump of new Conservative leaders (including those of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties), which has come in at about four points – the same average increase newly-installed Official Opposition leaders have experienced.”
Worse than Stockwell Day! That one is going to leave a mark!
Now, I know all the excuses (”Warren, you were Jean Chretien’s special assistant and are hardly our target vote; it’s early days, give him time; it’s an aggregate of polling by CBC, what did you expect; Donald Trump is making it hard for every conservative these days; it’s summer and no one is paying attention; Justin Trudeau’s socks …”) so don’t bother regurgitating them. They won’t work.
The simple fact is that the guy’s a dud. He’s invisible. He was the wrong choice.
It’s not that Scheer’s a bad guy, or that he’s evil and stupid like Trump. He’s just not there. He’s like Bruce Willis in the movie The Sixth Sense, where (spoiler alert!) Willis is a ghost and is the only guy who doesn’t know it.
Now, when you’re up against Trudeau, the personification of charisma, that’s a bit of a problem. Trudeau is Cher, Scheer is Sonny. Trudeau is Dean Martin, Scheer is Jerry Lewis. Trudeau is Catherine Zeta-Jones and Scheer is an aging Michael Douglas.
You get the point. Scheer just can’t compete with what Trudeau has. It almost makes you feel sorry for him – almost.
He’s been in the news twice since becoming Conservative leader. Unfortunately for him, both occasions were massive flip-flops. One was when he hastily declared that he would no longer talk to the avowedly racist Rebel Media, after his most senior aide helped found it. The other was when he said he wouldn’t fund any universities that trampled on free speech – and funding universities is a provincial responsibility, by the way – and then hastily reversed himself over the alt-right (i.e. neo-Nazis) holding events at universities.
Not a good way to get in the papers.
When you add in his tendency to grin when discussing tragedies and untimely deaths, Scheer is basically unelectable. He’s toast.
I know, I know, Team Scheer. Joe Clark beat a Trudeau (Pierre), and he was dull, too! No one knew who he was, either! Bland works, etc.!
Here’s a pro tip, Tories: when Clark becomes your best and only talking point, you’ve already lost.
Start looking for your next leader. This one’s done before he starts.
Troy Media columnist Warren Kinsella is a Canadian journalist, political adviser and commentator.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.