Tako Van Popta thanked supporters and volunteers after the new Conservative MP won in Langley-Aldergrove. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

New Conservative leader has to push for national unity: Langley MP

Andrew Scheer is stepping down as the party’s leader

The sudden announcement last week that federal Conservative Party’s Andrew Scheer will step down means Langley-area MPs will soon be part of a campaign to choose a new leader.

Langley-Aldergrove MP Tako van Popta had supported Scheer’s leadership campaign.

“I was surprised, I was disappointed,” van Popta said of Scheer’s sudden departure.

Van Popta said he told Scheer he respected his decision.

The Langley-Aldergrove MP was openly supportive of the Conservative leader in the immediate aftermath of election night, as it became clear that while the Conservatives had increased their seat count, the Liberals would ultimately form a minority government.

The party did well in B.C. and western Canada, van Popta noted, while failing to translate their high share of the popular vote – slightly more than the Liberals’ – into seats in urban and suburban southern Ontario.

Some media outlets reported that Scheer had been using party money to partially pay for his children’s private school tuition in Ottawa.

READ MORE: Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

There have been conflicting reports about whether the expenditures were authorized within the party.

Van Popta said he doesn’t know anything about the issue he hasn’t read in the papers, and can’t comment.

A handful of Conservative politicians and party figures have announced they are already going to run or seriously considering running for the leadership, among them Erin O’Toole, who has said he will run, and Peter McKay, who has said he’s considering it.

Van Popta, a rookie MP who replaced long-serving MP Mark Warawa, said he is not going to go for the leadership.

The need to choose a new leaders is urgent because, theoretically, another election could come without warning.

“It’s a minority [government] situation, so I think the Conservative Party needs to move quickly on this,” said van Popta. “We don’t have the luxury of time.”

He will support the candidate best placed to keep the party united, van Popta said.

A potential candidate will need to put a focus on national unity and keeping the Conservatives a national party, he added. The Liberals, van Popta argues, have governed for central and eastern Canada.

“The Conservative response should not be ‘Well then, we’ll represent the west,’” he said.

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