Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer. (The Canadian Press)

Conservative party’s fundraising boss takes over temporary helm of party

Jaime Girard is replacing Dustin Van Vugt

The director of fundraising for the federal Conservatives has taken over as acting executive director of the party as it continues to grapple with the fallout from the resignation of leader Andrew Scheer.

Jaime Girard is replacing Dustin Van Vugt, who left his job as executive director earlier this month over questions about party funds used for Scheer’s personal expenses.

Girard jumps into the new role at a crucial time for the party — figuring out how to run the race to select Scheer’s replacement.

Scheer announced on Dec. 12 that he will step down as leader as soon as a new one is chosen, a move that came after weeks of intense criticism of the way the party fared in the fall election, despite the fact it increased its overall seat count and share of the popular vote.

Campaigns to oust Scheer reached a fever pitch in the days leading up to his announcement, including word circulating that his children’s private school tuition was paid for with party money — details that surprised some members of the party’s main fundraising arm, the Conservative Fund.

Girard has spent more than a decade serving as director of fundraising for the Conservative party, a position that would have placed her into close contact with the Fund’s board.

The board includes former prime minister Stephen Harper, Conservative Sen. Linda Frum, and, as the current director, retired Conservative senator Irving Gerstein. Gerstein is expected to step back from his role running the board next year.

While the Fund sets the party’s budget, some members were not fully aware of the details of Scheer’s spending. The deal to cover tuition costs for Scheer’s children was struck between him and Van Vugt, who had called it standard practice.

“All proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people,” he said in a statement the same day Scheer stepped down.

But some members of the Fund disagreed. Van Vugt subsequently left the job.

Replacing him with Girard was one of a series of decisions adopted by the party’s national council on Friday as they seek to sort out the mess created by Scheer and Van Vugt’s departure.

Another: punting April’s planned policy convention to November in order to free up more room to organize the leadership race.

The committee who will be in charge of that is expected to be named in the coming days. They’ll in turn have to sort out when and where the vote will take place, and the rules for it, including the entry fee and number of signatures required to run.

Though several people — including former Quebec premier Jean Charest and former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose — have signalled an interest in running for the leadership, all are waiting for clarity on the rules and deadlines before they commit. Other potential contenders include current Conservative MPs and former cabinet ministers Pierre Poilievre, Erin O’Toole and Michael Chong, as well as former MPs and cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and James Moore.

Meanwhile, there is ongoing debate about the scope of Scheer’s expense accounts.

Scheer’s office has repeatedly said they have “nothing to add” when asked for clarification about how Scheer used the money, the decision to fire Van Vugt, or whether he’ll support a line-by-line review of his expenses.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Agricultural Land Commission letter could halt operations at McLean Mill

National historic site near Port Alberni set to host a number of events if COVID-19 doesn’t interrupt

Mural planned for entrance to Port Alberni’s Harbour Quay

Arrowsmith Rotary project falls under the theme ‘building relationships’

City of Port Alberni to review 2020 budget in response to COVID-19

Deadline for final budget adoption is May 15

Alberni school district takes a week off to plan for online education

All buildings and playgrounds in School District 70 closed to the public

Vancouver Island farmers demand on-site slaughter

COVID-19 pandemic puts supply chains at risk, says group

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes B.C. Interior

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout the Okanagan

John Horgan extends B.C.’s state of emergency for COVID-19

Premier urges everyone to follow Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice

B.C.’s first community COVID-19 death was dentist ‘dedicated’ to health: lawyer

Vincent was 64 when he died on March 22 after attending the Pacific Dental Conference

Two inmates at prison housing Robert Pickton test positive for COVID-19

Correctional Service of Canada did not release any details on the identities of the inmates

BC SPCA launches matching campaign to help vulnerable animals after big donations

Two BC SPCA donors have offered up to $65,000 in matching donations

Quarantined B.C. mom say pandemic has put special-needs families in ‘crisis mode’

Surrey’s Christine Williams shares family’s challenges, strengths

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Most Read