Choosing a new leader for Canada’s Tories.

The date has been set: May 27, 2017. That is when the Conservative Party of Canada chooses a replacement for former leader Stephen Harper and Acting Leader Rona Ambrose. Looking for an abbreviation to use on the calendar, we call it ConCon.

We have no idea where ConCon will be held or what form it will take but the far more serious question is where the Conservatives will find their party’s saviour? And even if you find this paragon, where will the candidate find the $5 million that the party is allowing candidates to spend? You can be sure that the winning candidate will need to spend most of that to run an effective national campaign.

And the bad news for political newcomers such as Kevin O’Leary is that you are not allowed to spend your own money. No Donald Trump need apply. With individual donation levels supposedly capped at $1500, it takes time to find enough people to contribute up to $5 million.

Political observer and commentator Chantal Hébert thinks that front runners such as Peter MacKay and Jason Kenney would leave little behind when they suck up the low-lying fruit of potential Conservative donations. Mind you there is no telling how deep those pockets are if some interesting newcomers emerge.

And frankly Peter MacKay and Jason Kenney are yesterday’s Conservatives and they have little more than name recognition going for them at this time. Peter MacKay is forever the guy who handed Reform’s Stephen Harper the Conservative Party. And Calgary’s Jason Kenney always leaves people with more questions than answers

But it is the spectre of Stephen Harper—the Hair—that will hang over Canadian conservatism for years to come. Harper’s cold and demanding style bruised too many Conservatives over the years. No smart candidate for the leadership will invoke his name in seeking to succeed him.

What the party needs most is not a new saviour but a new and realistic approach to Canadian politics. While Harper might have been successful for a while tapping into the demographics of greed and intolerance, he built up a resistance to his style that ultimately swept him from office.

It is most unlikely that the ultimate winner at ConCon in May 2017 is even one of the possible candidates currently being considered. The one thing most likely is that the 2019 federal election will be a recycling of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and then 2023 will be the next chance for Conservatives.

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Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry

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