Farmers’ votes allowed Scheer to win

Regina-Qu’Appelle MP Andrew Scheer’s weekend victory as the leader of the federal Conservative party has precluded a partisan political debate over the future of Canada’s supply management system in the dairy and poultry sectors.

Maxime Bernier, who led in support during the campaign and all the way to the last ballot, had vowed to scrap supply management. Scheer supports it.

And while it would have been interesting to see Bernier debate the merits of the system with the Trudeau Liberals in the next election, we are probably better off leaving that debate for another time. It would not do well for Canada’s political parties to be so split on the issue as Canada prepares to take on U.S. President Donald Trump in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Still, it looks like supply management played a significant role in bringing down Bernier, allowing Scheer’s stunning victory over the man who was perceived to hold such a lead that high-profile candidate Kevin O’Leary quit, saying he couldn’t make headway in Quebec, but Bernier could.

O’Leary obviously isn’t a student of politics.

Scheer won Bernier’s riding of Beauce, where there are many dairy farmers. In fact, Bernier lost more than half of the province’s 70 ridings, with farmers saying they mobilized against him. 

The Globe and Mail observed that “Mr. Bernier’s position hurt him in Quebec and was a key part of Mr. Scheer’s success.”

Bernier’s own adviser, Martin Masse, took it further, saying the dairy farmers made the difference. Sheer agreed.

So there you have it. Farmers roared.

Sheer, 38, grew up in Ottawa and his French is said to be passable, so it’s not inconceivable that he could be a strong contender to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the 2019 election, though the Liberals’ support remains strong. 

Scheer is a former Speaker of the House, so he has earned the respect of his colleagues, which is significant because his opinions will carry weight not just by the heft of his position, but also by the grounds of his rationale.

Given that he has to answer to voters in his home Saskatchewan riding, that bodes well for farmers.

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