After a failed federal election and a departing leader, it is time for the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) to look inwardly and decide how to proceed in the future. For too long conservatives have fought against themselves and failed to win the last election which was handed to them on a platter. Let the reflection begin.
When Stephen Harper left the party, although he had lost the elections to a vacuous Trudeau, the party itself was in good shape. However the choice of a new leader was hampered by the division between small ‘c’ conservatives and social conservatives. The party in a very narrow vote gave the leadership to Andrew Scheer. In my opinion, Scheer never had the leadership qualities required to lead the party. Given his role as the Speaker of the House he did not have the qualities of a front bench Minister who had the opportunity to fight against the opposition in the House. He continued his role of House conciliator in the campaign and allowed Trudeau to define him instead of the other way round.
The current CPC is still too embroiled in a definition of conservatism. For those who still lament the ‘progressive’ side, they should get over it. Progressive has nothing to do with progress. Instead we should look at defining conservatism as being pragmatic and embrace what many see as a new approach to conservatism.
New conservatism is to embrace economic policies that reflect the new realities of the 21st century, as well as new mores in society. This means that we must embrace pragmatic environmental policies that address real environmental solutions and not focus on taxes and the redistribution of wealth. The economic policies should focus more on making family life more affordable; help make employment more accessible through a focus on training and apprentices rather than expensive education at Universities who have become bastions of indoctrination. Reduce the exploding costs of the welfare state and instead focus on reducing and eventually eliminating subsidies to corporations as well as placing caps on deductions and eliminating boutique tax policies while lowering tax rates.
As for Canadian values they should be reflected in our immigration policies, and move away from the disastrous approach to multiculturalism. More importantly, let us address the elephant in the room in a pragmatic way that will allow for a bigger tent party. Social values must not be the center piece of the new conservatism. Instead we must value freedom of speech and association. We can accommodate both sides. Conservatives, by nature, are law abiding citizens, we therefore will guarantee that existing laws will be respected and supported. By the same token we must understand that there are others in the party who have religious beliefs that must be respected. In a big tent party we can have both beliefs. While recognizing that we have a duty to protect the LBGTQ community, we can also respect the religious values of others. That also means that attending a parade is not a prerequisite to lead a country.
Furthermore the CPC must recognize that Canada is a vast country with a diverse population with different views and economic goals. The Liberal government has succeeded in dividing the country between East and West, and the CPC should focus in dismantling these barriers. One of the failures of the party was the inability to make a breakthrough in the GTA, and Quebec, Cities have become bastions of liberalism, because they are populated by the liberal elite. The movement of population from rural to urban is rising, and it will continue to affect the vote in large cities. The party must also attract more women.
The next leader will have to address these issues in a very short time, because with a minority government, an election could be called within the next two years. The CPC must ensure that a new leader reflects the new realities of the political environment. While I do not have any one in mind, I will venture to seek for a bi-lingual female candidate, who can embrace new conservatism ideas, while uniting the party. The leader must be able to stand up for pragmatic conservative ideas, and not cower to the liberal media desires of making conservatives look like Liberals. There are differences in ideology, and a leader should clearly articulate them without fear.
Offense is the best form of defense. The last election was lost because the CPC was unable to capitalize on the governments many mistakes. Despite the possible problems experienced by Trump -impeachment, and Boris - a Scottish separation, it would be wise to follow their example, because their style and policies seem to be winning conservative support. It is imperative that the next CPC leader ensures that there are no skeletons in her closet, because ‘those who live in glass houses cannot throw stones’ and the next election will be decided on how and who can throw the bigger stones.