Scheer picks former Liberal MP Leona Alleslev as deputy Conservative leader

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has chosen a former Liberal MP who crossed the floor to join his party as his new deputy leader.

Toronto-area MP Leona Alleslev was picked for the high-ranking job more than one year after she left the governing Liberals over their handling of the economy, foreign affairs and what she called “inadequate” military funding.

“Leona was a former Liberal MP who came to our side in the last Parliament because she believed in my vision, and the Conservative vision, for Canada,” Scheer said at a news conference Thursday morning in Ottawa.

“She represents a diverse GTA (Greater Toronto Area) riding and I will depend on her to help hold the government to account while I’m on the road and to help expand our party in Ontario. I know she is more than fit for the task, and I am honoured to have her on board.”

Scheer announced his inner circle Thursday morning, unveiling a leadership team that will drive the party’s strategy to take on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government.

Other top leadership posts:

  • Quebec political lieutenant: Alain Rayes
  • House leader of the Official Opposition: Candice Bergen
  • Chief Opposition whip: Mark Strahl
  • Deputy House leader of the Official Opposition: John Nater
  • Deputy Opposition whip: John Brassard
  • Caucus-party liaison: Diane Finley
  • Conservative national caucus chair: Tom Kmiec
  • Caucus-opposition leader’s office co-ordinator: Chris Warkentin

A new session of Parliament begins next Thursday, when MPs will choose a House Speaker and the minority Liberal government will lay out its priories in a speech from the throne.

Scheer’s announcement comes as Conservative MPs and grassroots party members debate whether he should stay on as leader through the next election.

Supporters point to the fact he led the party through a campaign that increased its seat count and popular support. Detractors say there was a failure to capitalize on a series of Liberal scandals and missteps.

Scheer said Thursday he is staying and the divisions within the party are par for the course when the Conservatives don’t win the election.

Scheer has also been dogged by questions over his positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, which many people inside and outside the party say are out of step with the majority of Canadians.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is holding a news conference to announce his lineup of critics at 11:30 a.m. ET and will carry it live.


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