11:12:18 pm on
Wednesday 26 Feb 2020

Oh What a Lucky Man
David Simmonds

I feel badly for Andrew Scheer (above), reduced to interim leader of the ostensibly hapless Conservative Party he once led. After wining the leadership because of his apparent ability to straddle the gap between ‘socially conservative’ Conservatives and ‘socially liberal’ Conservatives, he finds clowns to the left and jokers to the right, all out for his scalp. The socially conservative see him as a traitor to their cause, which brooks no compromise on the values they emphasise; whereas, the socially liberal say he failed to clearly accept the reality of same sex marriage and the right of women to choose what happens to their bodies.


Once an insurance salesperson, never PM.

What’s the former insurance salesperson, Scheer, to do? Perhaps the gap among conservative factions was always going to be wider than it looked. It may have taken the second coming of Stephen Harper to keep it from widening.

All Scheer did was win the popular vote, but fail to win a majority in Parliament. That would not have been such a bad result seen from the point at which Scheer became party leader. Indeed, it was so widely assumed the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was good for two majority terms that A-team candidates, such as Peter Mackay, disdained to run because the job on offer was that of eight years as opposition leader.

Expectations changed. Given the SNC Lavalin affair, the Conservative Party sensed victory. It didn’t happen.

Scheer is now judged by a higher standard. Ironically, it was Peter Mackay who allayed the role of Brutus to Scheer as Caesar with his comment that Scheer missed a breakaway on an open net.

Scheer is in tough. According to a poll released last month, 42 per cent of Conservative voters surveyed would get rid of him; 41 per cent would keep him; 17 per cent are undecided. Even giving Scheer credit for all of the undecided voters, if the other proportions hold, he will get less than the 66.9 per cent that Joe Clark found was insufficient for him to continue as leader in 1983. In 2005, Harper set the bar at 80 per cent support and received 84 per cent.

Scheer needed to meet or come close to meeting the Harper bar. He needed to clear the Clark bar by a country mile. He missed both bars.

The report of former cabinet minister John Baird on what went wrong with the election campaign is out. Scheer was blamed. The insurance salesperson failed to close the deal.

Scheer seems like a nice enough guy for a salesperson. He is apparently a big fan of The Simpsons and can recite whole stretches of dialog from the most memorable episodes. He is also happily married with four children, so he has a good grounding in caucus management.

On the negative side, Scheer does poorly in stage presentation. He reads his lines unconvincingly. His cherubic face makes him appear young and therefore inexperienced, beyond his years. I know; it’s not fair.

Now Scheer is tossed, but will act as interim leader until a new fool takes over, later this year. I’m sure Scheer will recover from the blow; salespeople, ala Donald J Trump, take a licking and keep on ticking.

Scheer may never get a juicy government appointment, such as, say, consul general in Monte Carlo, but what the heck, he’s only forty and has a decent resume. He was speaker of the House of Commons at one point and he’s been a member of parliament for years. His pension is secure.

I can’t see him returning as a backbencher. Nor can I see him being content to collect his pension and drive his kids to hockey practice. I doubt he will not want to go back to the world of insurance.

Scheer will want to try something new. Perhaps he could even hook up with a socially liberal outfit like a green technology company or a marijuana producer. Perhaps he will take the time to do some reading and then decide to become a climate change evangelist.

He could always take a page from Patrick Brown. Pushed out of the Ontario Conservative Party leadership by a sex scandal, he dusted himself off and was elected mayor of Brampton. Oh, the mediocre can fall.

Speaking of sex scandals, at least Scheer is in a better position than his namesake across the pond. The Queen, nudged on, so it is said, by an irate Prince Charles, has stripped Andrew, the Duke of York, of his royal duties for the foreseeable future. He can hardly, being a royal, take on a job as a truck driver to stay busy.

What does he do? Move away to one of the distant colonies and open a bar? More likely, he’ll have to do some sort of public penance, as did former UK Conservative secretary of state John Profumo in the early 1960s.

Profumo was caught in a sex scandal of his own. He resigned and devoted the rest of his life to hands-dirty charitable volunteer work. He was rehabilitated in the public mind by the time of his death.


Trying is the first step towards failure.

All in all, Andrew Scheer should consider himself a lucky man. No sex scandal; no penance required and new challenges ahead. A Homer Simpson once, so elegantly, put it, “Trying is the first step towards failure.”

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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