Andrew Scheer doesn’t have an easy job. Leading Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is a tough grind under any circumstances—and it’s worse when you’re an aggressively average-looking guy and your competitors are international style icons and/or minor global celebrities. Up to now it’s been easy to lose him among the flash without ever really getting to know him first.
Thankfully, the Conservatives have put out a new video introducing Canadians to their future prime minister. Ladies and gentlemen: Andrew Scheer is finally here.
Scheer bursts through our screens the same way he burst into the highest-stakes game in Canadian politics: awkwardly and appearing vaguely uncomfortable. He shuffles along a suburban sidewalk with the gait of an alien body snatcher. It’s like watching someone coax a large toddler to take its first furtive steps into the colourful madness of the world.
“Hi, I’m Andrew Scheer,” he barks. “I’m the new leader of Canada’s Conservatives.”
Suddenly, a black woman appears onscreen. She says hello while Scheer breathlessly waves “hi guys” back. His audibly harrowing encounter with a visible minority out of the way early, he glides into the rest of the shoot.
“I know what it’s like growing up in a family that had to make sacrifices,” he chirps amid a close-up. ( Take THAT, Trudeau!) “But through hard work and good choices, my parents still gave us a good life.”
There is an unconscious fistclench. It is a tender moment of almost endearing earnestness. Yes. I nailed it. Andrew Scheer’s body can never deceive us; it is his greatest weakness, and his greatest strength.
A second, thinner, whiter, blonder woman appears, watching him intently as he walks toward her. “Hi Andrew,” she coos to him from a bench. Scheer politely and curtly says “hi” back and waves her away. Andrew Scheer is sending an important message to Canadians and no Aryan temptress will ever call him from his sacred duty. Can those other party boys in Parliament say the same?
“Conservatives want to see every Canadian succeed and prosper,” Scheer says straight-facedly into the camera as he strolls along an impeccably manicured sidewalk in an overwhelmingly white suburban park. “So while the other guys can take their cues from the cocktail circuit and celebrities, I’ll take mine from the grocery stores and the soccer fields.”
“That’s who I am,” he declares as the screen fades to white, “and that’s who I’m fighting for.”
There is nothing subtle about this video. Call it Harperite hyperrealism. Andrew Scheer is dressed like a low-rent extra from Dennis the Menace wearing a Bobby Hill haircut, because absolute squares are his core constituency. Unlike the feckless and effete leaders of the Liberals and the NDP, Andrew Scheer has never spent more than 50 seconds thinking about what he would wear for any given purpose. He’s too busy thinking about paying the bills and how best to divide his weekend downtime between all the concurrent renovation projects he’s undertaking on his thrice-mortgaged house. This guy has got shit to do and meat to grill and recreational children’s soccer coaches to bother about his kid’s playing time.
Andrew Scheer is a real man’s man: just a regular heterosexual white guy between the ages of 35 and 65 who is trying to get by in the burbs with his non-denominational Protestant family of 1.5 children. You know: a Real Canadian. Someone who will never be as popular as Justin Trudeau or as hip as Jagmeet Singh but probably will spend the better part of their working lives trying to hold it together at a soul-numbing job they hate while they wear a frumpy shirt that looks like a dishrag.
This video is awkward as hell. But then again, charisma is best left for the celebrity cocktail circuit—not where you’ll find the 30 percent of Canadians who always vote Conservative. The regular guy you see at the yearly cul-de-sac barbecue: now that’s the kind of guy who is going to keep his eye on the prize—your tax dollars—no matter how many women scream for him from the park benches. Follow Drew Brown on Twitter.