The stalking horse is a strategy that has been used in politics over the past 200 years. A stalking horse in politics appears to be a candidate for an office who builds a base of support but delivers the support to another candidate in the actual vote. We will soon know if it worked in the Canadian federal conservative leadership being decided later today. The stalking horse was former MP and Brampton mayor Patrick Brown. He was doing the stalking on behalf of his friend, former Quebec Premier Jean Charest. The prize at the end of the game was for Charest to win the leadership against MP Pierre Poilievre.
While people such as former prime minister Brian Mulroney were working the conservative party sign-ups in Quebec for Charest, Patrick Brown was signing up temporary conservatives across Canada—supposedly for his own campaign. His main target was the sub-continent diaspora of almost 2 million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who are concentrated in Toronto and Vancouver and other cities such as Montreal in Quebec and Brampton, Ontario. Brown signed up more than 100,000 temporary conservatives and renewals.
There are many theories as to why Brown was turfed from the conservative contest. There were rumours of illegal acts and there were rumours of rules violations. I think Patrick Brown set up his own ejection from the race. The problem was that with his sign-ups voting for him on the first ballot, he was risking coming second to Pierre Poilievre. For the stalking horse effort to work, Jean Charest had to come first or second on the first ballot. All was lost though if Poilievre had more than 50 per cent of 338 electoral districts on the first ballot.
Brown had no problem asking his temporary members to vote for Charest second to him. They would also accept his advice to vote for Jean Charest after he was out of the race. It did not matter that his name was still on the ballot. It is his second vote that is counted.
What is not clear is the obvious animosity between Brown and Poilievre. Neither of the two men are particularly likeable. Neither has much life experience. They both have had a life dedicated to politics with a conservative flavour. Brown’s conservatism is that of a smarmy, middle-of-the-road retail politician and Poilievre’s is to the extremes of the right wing of conservatism.
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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