Andrew Scheer is stepping down as Conservative leader.
The decision comes less than two months after a disappointing election result and after weeks of Conservative infighting about whether he should have a future as the head of the party.
Several prominent Conservatives have called outright for his resignation, or for him to re-apply for his job in a new leadership contest. Having not won power in October, he faced a mandatory leadership review in April.
The Conservatives held the Liberals to a minority government in October but many in the party had hoped for a better result.
Scheer was emotional in his seven-minute speech to the House of Commons, calling it one of the most difficult decisions he has ever made.
“This was not a decision that I came to lightly. This was a decision I came to after many long, hard conversations with friends, family over the past two months since the election campaign.”
Scheer was elected as the Tory leader in May 2017, barely besting Maxime Bernier in the contest after numerous rounds of voting.
Bernier, who left the Conservative Party to form the People’s Party of Canada, said in a tweet there was “zero chance” that he will run again for the party leadership.
“The party is morally and intellectually corrupt,” wrote Bernier. “Scheer was a weak leader who pushed it to the centre. The next leader will do the same. I started a principled Conservative alternative. I’m sticking to it.”
Scheer called his time as leader an “opportunity and challenge of a lifetime” but it was now time to put his family first.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saluted Scheer’s wife and family for the sacrifices they made to have him take on the leadership role of the Conservative party.
“I know from the many conversations I’ve had over the years with the honourable leader that he sees very much the way I and so many others, see our the responsibilities as parents,” said Trudeau. “That we are politicians, that we are in this house, not in spite of having kids but because we have kids and are dedicated to building a better world for them with everything we have. I respect that deeply of him and to thank him for that focus on a better future for his kids.”
New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh said he wanted to acknowledge the “hard work” that Scheer has put into his various roles. Before leading the Conservatives, Scheer was Speaker of the House of Commons.
“I think we speak as a united voice in acknowledging that and thank you for your service,” Singh said.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford thanked Scheer for his work as leader of the federal Conservatives.
“I wish Andrew Scheer all the best as he undertakes this new chapter in his life, and thank him for his service as the head of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and leader of the Conservative party,” Ford said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the premier said Ford is not interested in Scheer’s job, as he is focused on Ontario.
The election saw Scheer take great pains to distance himself from Ford, declining to appear with the premier during the campaign and rarely even uttering his name.
Scheer said he has asked the Conservative national council to begin a leadership contest and that he intends to stay on as leader of the party and official opposition “as our party embarks on this exciting opportunity, electing a new Conservative leader and Canada’s next Prime Minister.”