Andrew Scheer has been elected House of Commons Speaker. I met him in 2004, when we were federal candidates in adjacent Regina ridings. I was the no-shot NDP candidate against then-Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and he was the long-shot Conservative candidate against veteran NDP MP Lorne Nystrom.
At the end of that summer, we were both headed east. I drove a 1986 Ford Escort to Kingston to study at Queenâ€™s University. Andrew went to Ottawa to represent the good people of Reginaâ€“Quâ€™Appelle.
After completing my masterâ€™s degree, I drove the Escort up to Ottawa to work in the federal public service. Walking down Bank Street one evening, I saw a sign on Subway restaurant stating it was the last day that Sub Club stamps would be accepted. I ran to my apartment to get my pile of stamps before Subway closed.
Upon returning to the Bank Street franchise, I found myself in line with Andrew. The Subway cashier informed me that he could not accept a handful of loose stamps; they had to be affixed to cards. I asked if he had any blank Sub Club cards. The cashier explained that he did not because the program was ending, but that he was prepared to accept any type of card.
Without missing a beat, Andrew pulled out his business cards and offered that I could use them. So, I stood there sticking Sub Club stamps onto â€œAndrew Scheer, MPâ€ cards while he ordered his sandwich. Thatâ€™s my best story about Andrew being a good guy.
Notwithstanding his friendliness, his electoral victory had seemed surprising. He had not lived in Regina for long, had been working as a waiter at Danbryâ€™s restaurant and, as far as I know, had not completed his bachelorâ€™s degree.
(Todayâ€™s Murray Mandryk column indicates that he did finish his degree at the University of Regina and Wikipedia indicates that he finished his degree at the University of Saskatchewan, so I stand to be corrected, although his official biography just indicates that he â€œstudiedâ€ at the Universities of Ottawa and Regina. In any case, he has gone on to more significant accomplishments.)
Political commentators have been dismissive of the young and unexpected New Democrat MPs from Quebec, who have few roots in their ridings, have not finished their bachelorâ€™s degrees and/or were employed at restaurants. However, Andrew Scheerâ€™s rapid rise from similar beginnings to the Speakerâ€™s chair proves that these new Quebec MPs could well succeed in politics.