N.L. Conservatives say party has work to do after resignation of Andrew Scheer

After the resignation of Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer on Thursday, a Conservative senator and a former federal nominee say the party has work to do in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Senator David Wells, who was appointed by Stephen Harper in 2013, says Canadians pressured Scheer for losing an election which they believe could have been won.  

"We increased our seat count, we won the popular vote, and we did extremely well in the west. We did a lot better in the east than we had done in 2015," Wells told CBC Radio's On The Go

Even so, Wells said Scheer still wasn't clicking on the east coast of Canada, particularly in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

"Andrew just didn't resonate with Newfoundlanders, and perhaps not with Atlantic Canadians," he said.

"I would hope that our next leader would have more resonance in Atlantic Canada, and for me in particular, in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Family before politics 

In the House of Commons on Thursday, Scheer said he was putting family before politics, but will remain on board until a new leader of the Conservatives is chosen.

Scheer also came under fire for using party money to pay the difference for his children's education at a private school in Ottawa versus the tuition fee at their previous school in Saskatchewan.

However, Scheer's office insisted the matter was not the reason behind his resignation on Thursday. 

Wells said it was the first time he heard of the revelation.

"I only know what's in the public domain. I don't have any inside information or knowledge, and it was the first time I heard of it," he said.

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Bob Cadigan, a former CEO of NOIA who unsuccessfully sought the Conservative nomination in St. John's East in the last election, says he wasn't surprised by Scheer's resignation.

Cadigan said the Conservatives had a good opportunity to form a government, but were held back by Scheer's beliefs on social issues.

"He was really unable to get the electorate to understand that his personal beliefs weren't going to be acted on," Cadigan said.

"He couldn't seem to get that level of comfort with the electorate, and as a consequence, I think women and youth in particular didn't support the Conservatives."

The party didn't seem to put a lot of emphasis on winning seats in Newfoundland. - Bob Cadigan

Cadigan said the federal party is still feeling the effects of Danny Williams's Anything But Conservative (ABC) campaign, and little was done in the province to change the minds of voters.  

"The party didn't seem to put a lot of emphasis on winning seats in Newfoundland," he said. 

"I guess they looked at where they could possibly make gains, and they didn't see Newfoundland and Labrador as a place where they could make those gains."

Cadigian said to move forward in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Conservatives need to show voters that federal leadership can help with the province's issues.

"I think people really need to think hard about what's best for the province and make the decisions not on fear, but based on the realities of the party's platform," he said.

"Fundamentally, I think they've got to engage better with the public, I think they've gotta be more visible in public discourse and help get Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to understand what their platforms are and how the party can support Newfoundland and Labrador's future."

The party now needs to look carefully at the policies of its next leader, Cadigan said, but whoever that leader may be, he said he likely won't be seeking a federal nomination again. 

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