Conservative leader seeks help to rebuild in Atlantic Canada

Conservative leader seeks help to rebuild in Atlantic Canada

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer dialled up his folksy charm, joking about having "accidentally" eaten a donair at 1:30 a.m. and talking about his experience last summer on a lobster boat, during his pitch to Nova Scotia Conservatives to help the party rebuild after its devastating loss in the 2015 federal election.

Scheer was a speaker at the luncheon on Saturday at the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative Party's annual general meeting. He used the occasion to accuse the 32 Liberal MPs in Atlantic Canada of being silent on the major challenges facing the region.

"Thirty-two members of Parliament all toeing the party line, being a spokesperson for Ottawa ... in their own ridings instead of being that strong voice for their ridings in Ottawa," he said.

Talking points

Scheer said the coming carbon tax would "devastate" the East Coast fishing industry by driving up the cost of fuel.

The federal leader steered clear of the controversy surrounding Jamie Baillie, the provincial party's former leader who was forced to resign after an investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment. An internal investigation found Baillie had harassed a junior caucus staffer.

"The PC Party here has obviously addressed that and is now in the midst of a leadership campaign," Scheer told reporters after his half-hour speech.

"We've seen different things happen at the federal level, in other provinces. This kind of thing crosses all party lines."

August meeting

Scheer also poked fun at the number of people that have already come forward wanting the leader's job in Nova Scotia.

"I understand there are five candidates already," he said. "All you need is about eight more and then you can talk."

That's a reference to the fact Scheer had to beat out 13 rivals to win the federal party's top job.

Federal Conservatives are scheduled to gather in Halifax in August at the new convention centre for a meeting similar to this one.