It’s not clear how much Andrew Scheer knows about the North but according to at least one supporter, he appears willing to learn.
On Saturday, the Regina MP and former House of Commons speaker was elected leader of the Conservative Party.
David Connelly, a Conservative Party national vice-president and the NWT’s representative on the party’s national council, told Yellowknifer he believes the 38-year-old is the right person to lead the party back to power.
“It’s good for the North,” he said of Scheer’s victory. “He told me personally that he wants to learn more about the North, understand more about what’s important for us and ensure that it is included in the party’s agenda going forward.”
Connelly told Yellowknifer he extended a personal invitation to Scheer to visit the territory, and his impression is the leader is looking forward to coming.
“He apologized for not making it to the NWT during the leadership race,” said Connelly.
Conservative Party voters chose their new leader over the weekend using a vote conducted ahead of time. Each voter sent in a ballot with their top 10 choices among the 14 candidates running for the leadership. The candidate with the lowest vote total was eliminated with each ballot.
Connelly said it was the most democratic way possible for the party to select a new leader.
“Every member of the (party) had an opportunity to vote as opposed to selecting delegates from each riding,” he said.
Connelly conceded Scheer was not his first choice for the leadership, adding he is quite pleased with the win.
Hay River businessman Kevin Wallington is president of the NWT Conservative Party of Canada Riding Association. He was also in Toronto for the event and said that Scheer was his first choice after talking to conservatives across the territory. Wallington estimated 100 to 150 NWT residents cast ballots by mail in the leadership vote.
“It was a good opportunity to speak with fellow conservatives around the NWT and see what was important to them,” he said. “Scheer is open to coming to the NWT and would really like to … hear from people in the North about what really matters to us.”
Cost of living, green energy and the Liberal government’s proposed carbon tax are three issues that will likely be front and centre in the North during the next federal election in October of 2019, according to Wallington.