Andrew Scheer is the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. For many gun owners under the impression that it needed to be Bernier or bust, we have the following advice:

Stop panicking.

Slow down.

Breathe.

And realize that Andrew Scheer’s election may have been the best thing that could have happened for gun owners in Canada. That may come as a surprise to those aforementioned gun owners wooed by Bernier’s promise to make the AR-15 non-restricted, but bear with us… we’ll keep this as short as possible.

How Andrew Scheer won

First off, for any of the candidates to have been effective at accomplishing what we gun owners would like to see, they need to win in 2019. Andrew Scheer won the CPC leadership election by running a platform that preferred inoffensive policies that appealed the party’s “big tent” model. In doing so he estranged no one, appealed to as many voters as possible, and in doing so landed on a lot of ballots… he may have been ranked #3 or #5 on many of those ballots, sure, but he was on them.

By comparison, Bernier’s bold policies were far more polarizing; leading to the aforementioned “Bernier or bust” following. We’ve all seen the various photos of ballots being mailed in with Bernier chosen as the #1 choice, with no other candidates ranked; a stark contrast to Andrew Scheer’s efforts. In short, while Bernier’s supporters may have been more ardent in their support, in an election it’s not the conviction with which the ballots are cast that counts.

Why we care

In the 2019 election, there’s going to be three options, essentially: The Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP. It may sound stupidly simple, but it’s hugely important to note that two of those options share the left side of the political spectrum, while the entire right side is the sole territory of the Conservative party. As a result, a victory for the Conservative party typically involves the NDP and Liberal party splitting the left, while the CPC works to attract as many votes from the right side of the spectrum as possible. Recognizing this, both the LPC and NDP usually do well when the CPC fields a candidate that can be easily attacked with the familiar conservative tropes: Out of touch, unfeeling, cold, old, and entitled.

The election of Andrew Scheer puts a younger, friendlier, less divisive face on Canadian conservatism. His affable nature and sense of humour will make it hard for competitors to use those familiar attacks come 2019. And the same centrist, inoffensive attitude that pervaded his CPC leadership campaign will do well to ensure the conservative party is able to build the broadest base of support possible. There are a great many issues across the country, and having a broad platform that alienates as few of the conservatives across the country is key to raking in maximum votes. For example, while promising to revisit transfer payments may bear fruit in Alberta or BC, it loses ground with would-be conservative voters in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. Likewise, other candidates pushing divisive issues such as dismantling the health care system or supply management do little to grow support that isn’t already there; they’re policies that appeal to naturally right-leaning people anyway, and so, do not grow the number of votes that’ll be cast… merely the conviction with which they are cast for both better and worse.

Andrew Scheer on guns?

By now you may have the impression that we do not think Andrew Scheer is an overly exciting politician. His “right down the middle of the road” campaign was not bold. It wasn’t exhilarating. It wasn’t inspirational in the usual sense of the word. It was sweaty hard work. It was a grind. It was meat and potatoes political maneuvering; recognizing where there was room to exert himself and gain support, and following through with a good ground game.

As a result, we fully expect Andrew to place experts in advisory roles within the Ministry of Public Safety, and allow those experts to influence policy. That’s the sort of meat and potatoes politics we expect from such a meat and potatoes campaign.

In terms of his personal stance, we know he’s a gun owner, and we know he’s not afraid to admit it. He took the time to attend and speak at the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) Annual General Meeting in April. We also know he doesn’t think people should be forced to justify why they own or want to own a firearm, and has stated in his own words that Canadians have the right to own firearms, which is a truly watershed recognition of freedom from the man that could be our next Prime Minister.

So to all the candidates, we say thank you for a race well run, and the hard time spent away from families and loved ones in the pursuit of trying to help grow Canada’s democracy. And to Andrew Scheer, we say congratulations on a masterful campaign, and we look forward to working with you in the future.

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