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

Lacrosse player Patrick Dodds, 19, got his start playing for the Saanich Tigers in Braefoot Park and has now been drafted to the Calgary Roughnecks for the upcoming National Lacrosse League season. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Calgary Roughnecks draft young Saanich lacrosse star for coming NLL season

Going pro at 19 is ‘surreal,’ says Patrick Dodds

A development proposed for Victoria’s Old Town would include 274 rental units. (Rendering by Integra Architecture)
274-unit rental development proposed for Victoria’s Old Town

Project would take take over block with tire shop, parking lots

Nicole Abbott and her 10-month-old daughter, Ophelia, shown here at the Metchosin Fire Hall for the Halloween events last year. Residents are invited to a drive-through version this year. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore fire halls take pandemic-safe approach to Halloween

One spooky lane among three drive-thru features by firefighters

Saanich implements single-lane traffic stretch on Prospect Lake Road along Clavert Park. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Saanich makes one-way traffic permanent on segment of Prospect Lake Road

Prospect Lake Road to close near Calvert Park Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for construction

A 1900s writing box found in Greater Victoria contained ink, photos and a letter addressed to Clara McCaubry dated October 14, 1898. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Hervieux)
Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Wooden chest owned by early Saanich resident Clara Isabelle McCaubry

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

Wind and waves were part of the reason why the Sail Canada High Performance Team selected HMCS Quadra as the winter training base for Tokyo 2021. Photo by Ken Dool
National sailing team prepares for Olympics at Vancouver Island location

HMCS Quadra is serving as the winter training base for the Canadian… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Jordan Jay Ward, 20, is wanted Canada-wide for manslaughter. (Calgary police photo)
RCMP: Suspicious man seen in Parksville woods resembled manslaughter suspect

Hikers say he resembled Jordan Jay Ward, wanted Canada-wide

A police pursuit ended with an arrest in Williams Lake on Highway 97 Sunday afternoon. (Facebook video screenshot)
Video catches police pursuit that ends with man kicked, punched in Williams Lake

A video of the arrest is getting widely shared on social media

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Most Read