Bergen named Opposition House Leader

Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen. Pictured at the Winkler Harvest Festival 2019. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen has been re-appointed as Opposition House Leader, a role she has held since September 2016.

Bergen said she’s happy to continue the role and work with the new shadow cabinet announced by leader Andrew Scheer.

“It’s a job I’ve been doing now for three years, and with being a minority government I think my experience and the team I’ve got around me is as important as ever,” she said.

The Opposition House Leader has an important role to play, and Bergen described it as quarterbacking everything that goes on in the House of Commons on the opposition side.

“That means coordinating our response to government legislation, that means coordinating our debate, coordinating (daily question period) and the direction that’s going to take,” she said.

It’s a busy role to take on. “Being in Ottawa, being in the House of Commons and overseeing everything is a big part of what the job entails,” she said.

Bergen said she enjoys working with policy and strategizing, all part of the job.

The Conservatives were effective in their opposition role in the last session. “(The Liberal government) wanted to be able to not be there on Fridays, they wanted to only have the Prime Minister there answering questions for one hour every week and together with my team we were able to… hold them back and hold them to account,”
she said. “We were able to expose issues around SNC Lavalin, around the small business tax increase and really get those messages out to the public which is a really important job of the official opposition.”

“It’s not just a position where MPs are there complaining about what the government does. It’s actually a vital part of our democracy,” she said. “I love being a big part of that and leading a really good team.”

Bergen said she’s excited to work with the new shadow cabinet and the team of MPs that now numbers 121. “We wish we were in government but we take this responsibility seriously and I’m really happy to be able to lead the team as house leader,” she said.

Working with a minority government comes with new challenges.

“It could fall at any time,” she said. “They need the support of other parties so it will be up to the Liberals to make parliament work.”

Bergen said the Liberal government will be watching for the right time to trigger an election. “This is something we always have to be on the lookout for and be thinking about.”

While some have questioned the Conservative Party’s unity after the election, Bergen said they are moving forward in support of their leader.

She said a lengthy caucus meeting was held to discuss what went right and wrong in the last election and what needs to happen moving forward.

“As we came out of that room we were united,” she said. “We are united behind our leader Andrew Scheer, and we know the Liberals would love nothing more than for us to be having infighting and navel gazing over the next six months and letting the Liberals get away with whatever they want to do. But that’s not what we’re going to do.”

Bergen said she supports Andrew Scheer.

“I think he’s a good leader, he’s a thoughtful leader, he really thinks things through before he makes decisions,” she said. “I’ve worked with him and I have a lot of respect for him, so I’m happy he’s continuing and I’m just looking forward to us getting back to parliament and doing the work we need to do for this great country.”

The 43rd Parliament will convene on Dec. 5.

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