I wondered, in the days leading up to the CPC Convention if we were going to see grassroots anger, or grassroots optimism. On balance, the media and I seem to agree, we saw mostly optimism and confidence in the future, and lots of openness, respectful and mature debate and pride in what the CPC has done for Canada in the past dozen plus years and what it is reading itself to do for Canada, again … possibly starting in 2019.
There were some good moves …
The vote to drop our previous opposition to same sex marriage was one. This train has left the station. The Supreme Court of Canada has decided. It is good and proper for some Conservatives to remain opposed, and it is their right to speak against it … but a Conservative government, representing the Conservative party must accept that it is a basic right, no matter how some of us might feel.
The vote to continue to oppose forcing medical practitioners to provide abortions or to assist with suicide is also a good move. (The resolution on assisted suicide did not make it to the floor, that was a win for the social conservatives ~ and it was a win they needed and deserved. The resolution on “conscience rights” for medical folks did pass ~ also a good win for the socially conservative wing of the party.) While I support ready, private and free access to safe abortions (with some limits regarding e.g. the viability of the foetus) I oppose forcing anyone ~ a doctor, a nurse or a hospital administrator or board ~ to provide an abortion or to assist with suicide. I suspect that medical associations/colleges will take a similar stand: you, as a physician, for example, may decline to provide such services on ethical grounds but you must refer your patient to someone who can help.
Marijuana is another train that has left the station. I wish that Prime Minister Trudeau was committed to something other than rash action, but … it is now up to Conservatives to limit the harm. We need to look at how it work in some places, at what works and what doesn’t.
It was good that almost all delegates listened respectfully to a Muslim delegate who chastised the party for making her feel like a second class citizen in the 2015 campaign. Most reports say that only one, lone person called out in dissent when she spoke while hundreds applauded and many came to shake her hand. Good on us for recognizing our mistake.
Finally it was a good move to not amend the rules to allow Rona Ambrose to run for leader. It was very characteristically classy and good humoured of her to make it clear that she did not want the resolution to come forward. Good, solid, democratic organizations don’t change the rules for the convenience of anyone. We need to allow a real leadership race to run its course and while it’s doing so we need to have a real leader on our front bench, holding this Liberal horde to account for their actions.
There were some not so good moves …
Some of the social liberals, people like me, we too happy with e.g. the gay marriage victory … no, I’m not criticizing Michelle Rempel, I thought she was just fine; but it wasn’t the second coming and it needn’t have been celebrated like we won the Grey Cup. There needs to be some reconciliation between the social liberal and social conservative wings of the party around our core values of good, smaller, less intrusive and fiscally responsible government.
Equally, too many social conservative Party members were threatening to bolt the Party and so on … if all that was making you a Conservative was a position on same sex marriage then we are probably better off without you, but I think that was, in 90% of the cases, just anger and frustration speaking out.
On balance …
I’m optimistic. We were open, respectful of one another, happy, friendly towards the media, thoughtful, liberal in the right ways and conservative in the right ways, too, and, above all, unlike the Liberals and the NDP, united behind our interim leader.