NDP fall worries Tories

The federal Conservatives return to the House of Commons today after a tumultuous two weeks that included losing one of their best-known MPs to a sexual-misconduct scandal.

But for leader Andrew Scheer and company, it's not Tony Clement's online activities, the potential spillover of harassment allegations against provincial Tory politicians, or even the growing popularity of former Tory Maxime Bernier's new political party that are keeping them up at night.

The Tory nightmare now is the fall of the NDP.

"That's where I'm actually worried, frankly — from a strategic perspective, that's what I'm watching," said Alexandre Meterissian, a conservative strategist with Montreal firm Hatley Strategy Advisors. "The collapse of the NDP is a big problem for the party."

Meterissian in particular is concerned about a Mainstreet Research Poll published Nov. 14 that had the Liberals with a comfortable lead and the NDP down at 10 per cent, barely ahead of the Green Party. That was an unusually bad poll for the New Democrats but Meterissian said there is a downward trend for the party and leader Jagmeet Singh, who is struggling with caucus discontent and communications problems.

Meterissian said the Conservatives need to figure out how to attract NDP voters in Quebec and northern Ontario, because otherwise those votes will all go to the Liberals.

Scheer said in an interview that going back into the House of Commons after a break week for Remembrance Day, his party is going to focus on being united and not dwelling on the difficulties of the last few weeks or even months.

Scheer said sexual harassment is not a partisan issue, all the parties have had to contend with it, and all the parties have to figure out how best to investigate and address it. Clement is the fourth MP since the last election to be forced out of a caucus because of allegations of improper behaviour. Two have been Liberals and one was a New Democrat.

"We've had our issue, we've dealt with it and now we're focusing on going back to holding this government to account and putting forward innovative policy options," Scheer said.

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