Baird report blames inexperienced staff, centralized control for Conservatives’ election loss

An internal Conservative Party report on the party’s performance in the 2019 federal election under Andrew Scheer blames inexperienced staffers and a decision to centralize control over the campaign in the hands of campaign manager Hamish Marshall, CBC News has learned.

The lessons-learned report — describes by one party source as “frank and extensive” — was drafted by former Conservative cabinet Minister John Baird. CBC News has spoken with multiple sources who have talked to Baird about the report’s contents.

The report also cites problems with the Conservative Party’s platform, its communications strategy and its candidate screening process, sources said.

It also includes “real world” examples of Scheer’s difficulties during the campaign — notably, the Conservative leader’s struggles to answer questions about his dual Canadian-American citizenship and whether he had falsely claimed to be a certified insurance broker.

Marshall told CBC News he hasn’t seen the report and is not aware of its contents.

“I have always taken full responsibility for the campaign,” Marshall said. “The buck stops with me.”

Conservative campaign manager Hamish Marshall, centre, campaigns with Andrew Scheer, second from left, in Regina, Sask., Oct. 21, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Baird was asked to take on the post-mortem review by Scheer. The report went directly to Scheer, according to his office. Scheer tweeted that he would “share feedback” with the next Conservative leader.

It’s not clear how much of the report, if any, will be shared with the Conservative caucus. Their next meeting is scheduled for Jan 24-25 in Ottawa.