The day after the election, Scheer told reporters in Regina that the final seat tallies — which showed the resurgence of the separatist Bloc Québécois and a firm rejection of Liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan — prove that Canada is not united.
“The fact that our country is more divided than ever is directly a result of Justin Trudeau’s approach over the last four years,” Scheer said.
He encouraged the prime minister to strike a “more co-operative approach with all provinces,” saying more than once that the Tories will keep up the fight for a “united Canada” in the next Parliament.
Watch: Scheer says he hears the anger of Western Canadians
In the end, the Bloc won 32 of Quebec’s 78 ridings and Liberals were completely shut out of both Alberta and Saskatchewan. Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi lost in Edmonton, while Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, a widely respected parliamentarian, fell in Regina.
But the Liberal win, largely thanks to two-thirds of the seats in Ontario, stoked talk of Western alienation and separatism online. On Tuesday, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe called on Trudeau to heed the growing discord on the Prairies by scrapping the federal carbon tax on his province.
“Last night’s election results showed the sense of frustration and alienation in Saskatchewan is now greater than it has been at any point in my lifetime,” Moe said in a statement.
Scheer said his party hears the concerns of people in Alberta and Saskatchewan loud and clear.
“We will fight for you. We will do everything we can to make sure this Liberal government understands that it has to change course,” he said. “It cannot continue to attack our energy sector, to kill big projects that get our natural resources around the world.”
Asked if he was stoking national unity issues for his own political gain, Scheer said the rejection of Liberals in two whole provinces speaks for itself. He accused Trudeau of pitting region against region, province against province.
He also criticized Trudeau for his steady jabs at Progressive Conservative Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who did not stump for federal Tories during the campaign period.
“Trudeau should consider the fact that he just spent the last 40 days personally attacking and demonizing the premier of Ontario,” he said.
Scheer also used the news conference to put a positive spin on his party’s disappointing finish.
Though Tories increased their seat total by 23 and reduced a Liberal majority to a minority, the party failed to grasp victory that seemed in sight.
Scheer confirmed he would stay on as Tory leader and said that while he “obviously” wished for a different result, he was happy with many aspects of his campaign. As he did in his speech to supporters the night before, Scheer repeatedly pointed to his party’s lead in the popular vote as proof that it is on the cusp of governing.
‘There’s a lot of reasons to be encouraged’
“More Canadians supported my platform and our team last night than any other party. So there’s a lot of reasons to be encouraged,” he said when asked why he wasn’t able to win Greater Toronto Area seats that Stephen Harper won in 2011 and Ford captured at the provincial level in 2018.
He also claimed that his message to Quebecers resonated, even though the party lost two seats there, falling from 12 to 10.
He reiterated that the results are a “first step” to getting back in government, suggesting that fighting Liberals and preparing to replace them is his priority.
But Scheer ducked a question about how he was unable to unseat Trudeau despite the prime minister lugging the baggage of the SNC-Lavalin affair, two ethics violations, and his past incidents of brownface and blackface.
Instead, he claimed that just four years ago, pundits and analysts were predicting Trudeau would win a majority in not just this year but in 2023, as well.
“The next election will likely come much sooner than that,” he said. “We made incredible gains last night.”
With files from The Canadian Press