Conservative leader Scheer resigns

Leader of the federal opposition party, Andrew Scheer has resigned.

The Saskatchewan Member of Parliament for Regina-Qu’Appelle will remain as an MP. However, the 40 year old leader of the Conservatives informed his caucus in Ottawa Thursday morning that he had decided to step down to spend more time with his family and reduce the stresses on them.

In the House of Commons the Conservative leader said the decision was also the best one for the party and asked his colleagues to immediately begin planning a leadership race to pick his successor.

“Our party is not a cult of personality it is not shaped by whomever’s name is on the masthead. My only ask to my fellow Conservatives is this: let’s stay united,” he said in his address to Parliament, during his point of privilege in the House.

The resignation comes on the heels of reporting Thursday morning by Global News that he had been using Conservative Party funds to pay for four of his five children’s private school fees.

“In order to chart the course ahead in the direction this party is heading, the party needs someone who can give 100 percent,” he said in the House.

Scheer was already under pressure from his Conservative colleagues to step down as leader, after the Party’s failure to unseat the Liberals in the October election.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the challenges of a young family and party leadership in his response in the Commons.

“I know thoughts first and foremost are for family. I want to salute Jill (Scheer) and recognize his kids, who, I know better than most, have made significant sacrifices to see their father take on a leadership position,” Justin Trudeau said.

“We are politicians, we are in this House, not in spite of having kids, but because we have kids, and are dedicated to building a better world for them with everything we have. And I respect that deeply of him and thank him,” Trudeau said.

Yves-François Blanchet, Bloc Québécois leader, said despite their differences on public policy, including climate issues, he always had a respectful relationship with Mr. Scheer.

“I wish with all my heart that in light of this very difficult decision that every day that will follow this day will bring peace and the certainty that this was the right decision,” said Blanchet.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said he applauds the Conservative leader for “taking up that mantle, for being in public service.”

“It’s a big sacrifice. I know the member knows that very well. And I know his family knows that very well,” he said.

It is expected Scheer will remain as leader of the Conservatives until the party’s April convention.

Scheer has the whole of his career in federal politics and, under the Stephen Harper, was made the nation’s youngest Speaker of the Commons.

After the formalities of the House, the Scheer let the governing party know that his opposition members would be just as active as they had planned be with him as an un-resigned leader.

He offered that “I haven’t fact checked this yet, but I believe I’m the first person in Canadian history to get more votes than a Trudeau.”

Contact mike.raine@producer.com

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