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

City council wants Nanaimo to be considered as a potential pilot site for safely supplied drugs

Council votes 6-3 to write to B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Truck loses a wheel in crash, keeps going, crashes again on Nanaimo’s Townsite Road

One person taken to hospital following accident Tuesday afternoon

Nanaimo company offering free soil for self-isolators to get into gardening

Milner Group inviting the public to pick up soil at its Biggs Road recycling facility on Saturday

Nanaimo man, allegedly drunk and high, arrested after climbing 100-foot tree

Man in sandals climbs fir tree, hurls obscenities at police below

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: RDN’s essential services maintained during pandemic

Regional District of Nanaimo chairman thanks residents for co-operation and understanding

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Nanaimo bylaw officers on the lookout for COVID-19 control infractions

Bylaw and health officers watch for health order infractions, citizens can call in complaints

Nanaimo barbershop quartet records musical tribute to Dr. Bonnie Henry

Ode to provincial health officer is to the tune of a singing valentine

Nanaimo’s Lauren Spencer-Smith advances to American Idol top 20

Teen performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Nanaimo will be the community hardest-hit by ferry layoffs, union says

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union looking at its legal options

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Most Read