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His father’s way of tackling current affairs wasn’t casual. It was, ‘Does the government even have a role to play in doing that?

Created by Manning in 1987, Reform rose as a Western populist movement and split the federal right-of-centre vote throughout the 1990s.

After the 1997 election, Manning led the Official Opposition to Jean Chrétien’s Liberal government.

How Canadian voters interpret Scheer’s dissonances before the next federal election in 2019 has become a pressing question in federal politics. His mother, Mary, who died last spring at 73 during the Conservative leadership race, was a nurse.

When Andrew was growing up, she worked at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

In 1998, in a computer class at Immaculata High School, the Catholic school where he studied in a French-immersion program, Scheer discovered the website of Preston Manning’s Reform Party.

He emailed the youth coordinator and before long was working part-time for Manning.“What fascinated me,” Scheer says, “is the fact that [Ceausescu’s] own people assassinated him, or executed him.” So he went to his bookish dad with a lot of questions. “We don’t have to worry about a strongman taking over and having to live in that situation for decades, and finally taking him out by violence.” Fixating on foreign upheaval isn’t the sort of coming-of-age moment a politician typically chooses to highlight.For Scheer, with his signature slight smile and average-guy air, there’s something unexpected, almost jarring, in the notion that he displayed a precocious curiosity about violence and political legitimacy.But then his aw-shucks demeanour belies his complexity.Praised by political allies for his knack for clicking with ordinary folks, Scheer is also a creature of Parliament Hill and a denizen of party backrooms.After two conventions in 2000 in Ottawa, Reform was recast as the Canadian Alliance, and Scheer shifted to work on Manning’s campaign to lead the rebranded party.


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