And you used to wonder why Prime Minister Stephen Harper was always flying off with his hairdresser to other parts of the world? It was obvious to many that he was under the constant pressure of keeping his disparate party under some semblance of control. It was during his third term–his first majority—that some of the controls were relaxed and Canadians saw the true Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.
They saw the denials of women’s rights from the social conservatives. They saw the attempts to exclude voters from the polls. They saw the tax benefits to being a Conservative supporter. They saw the Senate of Canada used as a sinecure for the Tory faithful. They saw the abuse in trying to mislead the House of Commons.
What Canadians saw was also the growing tensions in the marriage of the Reform/Alliance movement with the former Progressive Conservatives. The progressives were becoming less and less likely to support what they were seeing as extremism. They could not condone the cruelty of the religious right and the Libertarianism of the extremists demanding less taxes and smaller, less caring government.
And the current leadership contest in the party has served to demonstrate that rift. Libertarians such as Maxime Bernier had little trouble gathering up funds from gullible and unknowing Canadians. His only problem is that he cannot win in his own province.
Kellie Leitch and Kevin O’Leary ripped pages from the Trump handbook without looking at where the votes were to come from. Without the second, third or fourth vote preferences, they go nowhere.
Michael Chong from Ontario is recognized as the only possible choice for the former Progressive Conservatives. The wild card is Erin O’Toole—also from Ontario—who ingratiated himself in the Atlantic and got Peter MacKay on his side. Balancing O’Toole on the right though is Saskatchewan M.P. Andrew Scheer. The two of them hang on the extreme right of their party and have equally unproved leadership potential.
It looks like no matter who wins the conservative leadership, Canada could end up with two political parties on the right. The most right-wing party will probably be dominated by the western element. The more centre-right party will likely be on a Montreal-Toronto axis. And both parties will be more stable than the current Conservative Party of Canada.
Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry
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