Beauce’s Bernier bugs-out.

‘Bug-out’ is an American military term for the rapid advance to the rear of troops or an installation about to be over-run by enemy combatants. It is also an appropriate term for political people deserting their political party in the face of sure and certain defeat. And that is the most likely scenario for Canada’s conservatives next year as we head into a general election.

And it is the party’s fault. The foolish drill down to the least competent of the conservative candidates in last year’s leadership contest practically guaranteed that outcome. The objective of the leadership vote was to be the first to have a majority in a countdown of voting outcomes on a preferential ballot. All it proved was that Andrew ‘Chuckles’ Scheer of Saskatchewan was the least offensive of the 14 candidates and that Maxime Bernier of Quebec was the second least offensive. Neither was first choice and nobody seemed to to be impressed with their relative ability to lead.

As many have noted for the past year, conservative MPs in the Commons seemed to be doing their own thing anyway. It was hardly just a libertarian such as Bernier that was out there pitching for himself. Quite a few of the likely replacements for Scheer have been out building their own brand. The smartest of these is former federal minister of everything Jason Kenney who returned to Alberta to unite the right and hopefully return his province to the conservative fold.

Bernier was more than convinced that Scheer was leading the conservatives nowhere. At a time when Justin Trudeau’s liberals were proving themselves incompetent on many fronts, Scheer was failing to mount a meaningful opposition. Bernier complained that, under Scheer, the party lacked conservative principles and was morally corrupt.

Bernier’s announcement last week that he was leaving the conservative party came as little surprise to political observers. Whether he will entertain an opportunity to take over the already existing Libertarian Party or launch a completely new party will depend on his fund-raising prospects. The extremes of libertarian principles that Bernier espouses seem very similar to the far right-wing conservatism of people such as Doug Ford.

In the long run, it should serve to bring Jason Kenney back to federal politics. He will have to come back to Ottawa to unite the right across the country.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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