Conservative Leadership

Glen McGregor, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, says that:

“The race to choose a new leader of the federal Conservative Party could formally begin as early as next month as the party seeks to maximize fundraising opportunities and ensure candidates comply with Elections Canada rules.

The party is weighing a February start date for the campaign, with a leadership convention likely set for the spring of 2017 but possibly as early as November of this year, according to a source familiar with the discussion.”

I say “good” on two grounds:

First: Many candidates will need some time to get their names and faces better known to everyone in the Party.

Right now we all know Tony Clement, Jason Kenney and Peter MacKay pretty well, I think; but not, I suspect, as much as we might believe. Where do they stand, for example, on taxes and stimulus spending in these, tough, turbulent economic times? What about defence spending? How would they propose to (re)build the Canadian Forces into the tough, combat-ready, adequately equipped force we really need in this dangerous world? What about their views on immigration? On free(er) trade ~ the TPP and free trade with China, for example? How will they reintroduce real principles into our foreign policy?

(Just read back over a few articles and you will understand my concerns about foreign and defence policy and I suggest that IF you are a real Conservative then they ought to be your concerns, too.)

And how about social spending ~ I don’t really expect any candidate to say, out front, that (s)he will repeal the Canada Health Act but I want to hear the “secret code” words and phrases like “innovation” and “experimentation by provinces” from some of them?

On the topic of social issues: what about abortion and gay marriage? I can support a candidate who is, personally, opposed to either or both, but I cannot support a candidate who will try to reopen what I (and most Canadians, including the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada) regard as “settled” rights. I want a candidate with strong moral convictions, but I also want one who is committed to leading a party that will govern for all Canadians, not just for conservatives.

And, of course there are many other potential candidates who are less well known but have very legitimate “shots” at the leadership. And we need to ask them the same tough questions, too.

And some of us may need to remind ourselves that, picking up on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s quip, “it’s 2016” and none of Dr Kellie Leitch, Lisa Raitt or Michelle Rempel are disqualified from leading our Conservative Party just because they are women.

The second good reason to get the campaign started soon is to set fair and equitable rule for everyone.

(I have not, yet, personally, decided who to support. I need answers to the questions I posed above, and many others, before I do, but I am already a significant donor to the party ~ I get one of those “Leaders Circle” pins and a card every year ~ but, as a recent e-mail from Louis Leger, Chair of the Leaders Circle and Cheryl Stein, Director of Major Gifts for the Party reminded me, I still have “room” to give enough to help a candidate this year and next ~ the donation limit for 2016 is $1,525.)

So let’s get the race started. Let’s have candidates from all “flanks” BernierMaxime_CPCof the party in the race so that we can have full and frank exchanges of views and so that we, party members, can decide who most closely matches our views and who we think is most likely to shove the Liberals back into opposition in 2019. We need to hear from the likes of Maxime Bernier ~ he has some important things to say about freedom and property and capitalism: thing we all need to hear.

We need to remember that it is small business, independent business, the sort of business that gets short shrift from the Liberals, that creates and maintains most jobs in Canada and we must always remind ourselves that a job is the best of all social programmes.

We need to hear from others, who have said they will not be candidates, for various reasons, but who still have important things to tell us and who may guide some of us when we see who they are supporting.

I’m thinking of John Baird, James Moore and Erin O’Toole, amongst others.

Finally. let’s let the campaign run into well into 2017 ~ that will give all the candidates ample time to raise money and, more important, to raise support by enunciating positions. It will also penalize the candidates without the “staying power” to meet and match Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

So, I hope Mr McGregor’s sources are right and we will see the formal race begin sooner rather than later.

Candidates: I need to hear from you.

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