O’Toole’s Big Tent Dreams.

Federal conservative leader Erin O’Toole is making his intentions clear and prime minister Justin Trudeau can ignore the intent and lose everything. O’Toole is attempting to mix the Harper base, the Jason Kenney ethnic strategy, the liberal union strategy and the frustrations of Donald Trump’s base.

There is no question but O’Toole is the natural to inherit the Stephen Harper base of Western conservatism. He is working hard at being the nice guy with the nasty friends. Being from Ontario, he can use his blandness to set him apart from the gaucheness of Ontario premier Doug Ford and the stridency and misogyny of Alberta’s Jason Kenney.

Yet it is the ethnic group inroads that Kenney made for the Harper government that O’Toole is trying to work to his party’s advantage. Did you think that all those walls of ethnic groups behind Harper appeared by magic? I thought the funniest one I ever saw was the group of boy scouts that Harper used once for a backdrop.

O’Toole is also taking a direct shot at the union support that the liberals had attracted away from the new democrats. It has long been a wonder why some of our more controlling unions did not recognize their affinity for conservatism. These are unions that will fight for the status quo to their last surviving member. There are many unions that consider ‘Solidarity Forever’ to be a conservative camp song.

The most recent lesson in building a big tent was the supposed aberration of Donald Trump as president of the United States. That should not have been as much of a surprise in 2016 as we made out. Even the most conservative of polling firms are still trying to find out where some of those Trump supporters originated. While the born-again Christians who formed so solidly behind Trump are more prominent in the U.S., they are also a strong element in Canada.

Another item O’Toole has outstanding in his big-tent mix is how to sell some environmentalism to the Prairie provinces?


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