OTTAWA — Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer will announce his bid for the Conservative leadership Wednesday.
Scheer, 37, grew up in Ottawa and is bilingual. He served as speaker of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2015.
At a press conference Wednesday, Scheer will make his leadership ambitions formal.
He will be accompanied by his wife, Jill, and, possibly, a few of their five children. His spokesman, Hamish Marshall, said Scheer would be submitting his candidacy papers with the party prior to making his announcement.
Andrew Scheer attends the opening session at the national Conservative summer caucus retreat in Halifax on Sept. 13, 2016. (Photo: Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Several caucus members are also expected to be on hand to lend their support.
“We’re expecting a lot of support from caucus,” Marshall said.
Alberta MP Garnett Genius told HuffPost he supports Scheer because he believes he will be a “unifying figure” for the party.
“He is intelligent, very affable, a well-liked person, well-respected, I think, across party lines,” Genius said.
“One of the most important things obviously, is for our party to remain strong, as a coalition of people with similar but not exactly the same ideas and the support Andrew will have from caucus will reflect, really, the broad range of opinion within our party.”
"He is intelligent, very affable, a well-liked person, well-respected, I think, across party lines."— MP Garnett Genius
Scheer, who has been described as a social conservative, “is not afraid of the diversity” that exists in the Conservative tent and will allow different parts of the party — the libertarian wing, red Tories, blue Tories and people of faith — to have their say, Genius said.
“He is not someone that is trying to divide the party in the context of a leadership race, he is someone who is trying to unite the party through and after the leadership race,” he added.
Alberta MP Chris Warkentin called Scheer “a next-generation leader within the Canadian conservative movement.”
“I believe that we need a leader who truly understands the concerns of everyday Canadians, a leader who is committed to creating jobs, opportunities and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.... I believe that Andrew is that leader!” he wrote in an email.
French fluency important: MPs
British Columbia MP Mark Strahl said Scheer showed his competence as an administrator and manager having overseen the House of Commons and its staff during a very difficult time following the terrorist attack in 2014. “He carries no baggage from the previous government, having served in Speaker's role during the majority years,” Strahl added.
Strahl and Warkentin both stressed Scheer’s fluency in French and the need for the Conservatives to have a fully bilingual leader.
“We will be laughed out of Quebec if we choose a leader that cannot achieve "debate level" French,” Strahl said.
There are currently five official candidates for the Tory leadership: MPs Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch, Maxime Bernier, Tony Clement and Deepak Obhrai.
MPs Brad Trost, Erin O’Toole, Lisa Raitt and Steven Blaney are also exploring bids.