Back in the 2015 campaign … remember all those promises? … a fellow named Michael Blais, an injured veteran, himself, was a spokesman for a group called “ABC,” Anybody But Conservatives, that campaigned aggressively for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. After the election the ABC veterans quietly folded their tents and Mr Blais founded a new group. Mr Blais, who I do not know, appears, to me, to be a hard working advocate; I have no way to judge his effectiveness but he certainly has a talent for being seen in the right circles, complete with his organization’s own badges and a knight’s cross of a religious order which is “awarded” by a charity that, inter alia, supports veterans groups and the cadet movement.
Mr Blais was, take your pick, coopted by the current Trudeau government or decided that he needed to be on the inside to effect real change, and he was, according to an article in the Globe and Mail, “named to a mental-health advisory committee struck by Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr.”
That Globe and Mail article is one of a welcome (and properly critical of this and past governments) series highlighting suicides amongst Canadian veterans. In it Mr Blais is quoted as saying: ““We’ve discussed peripherally that suicide is a problem but nothing substantive has been done … There’s no sense of urgency whatsoever from the department or the minister.”“
I have written before about the New Veterans Charter and why (without debating how “generous” pensions ought to be or what “special obligations” a government may (or may not) have towards them men and women it sends into harm’s way to fight and, perhaps, be wounded or killed in support of government aims) is was immoral in 2005 when it passed with all party support and why it remains immoral today.
But, that isn’t my point, today: it is the focus on single issues that concerns me. I am just using Mr Blais as a “hook,” because he made himself a public figure as a spokesman for a single, special interest, to talk about electoral tactics and strategy.
Mr Blais and his friends helped, a wee tiny bit, to throw out a good, sound, moderate government and replace it with something akin to the Amateur Hour. There is “no sense of urgency” about veterans because, despite the rather feeble “veterans’ industry,” of which Mr Blais is a part, this government never had and still lacks an overarching “strategy ” ~ I not looking for a globally focused “grand strategy” that puts Canada in an appropriate place near the centre of the world, M Trudeau is no St Laurent, I mean there is no AIM to this government, no central focus. All they promised was change ~ in reality no more Stephen Harper ~ and that’s all we’ve got, and, for the moment, that (and steadily mounting debt) is all that’s on offer.
How long can it last?
Maybe until late 2017, but: taxes will creep up, especially on middle class families in the suburbs as they feel the effects of the cancellation of the carefully targeted “boutique tax cuts” that Stephen Harper put in place; the carbon tax will bite, to the tune of a couple of thousand dollars a year for those same families, even the Laurentian elites will begin to worry about steadily rising taxes and stagnating incomes; promises will be broken, including promises to veterans, and, special interest by special interest, people will notice; things will go wrong, Sunny Ways is not a useful foreign policy; voter after voter, in their thousands and then even in their millions will wonder just what sort of change they’re getting. We, the almost 40% of us who voted, anyway, wanted change … we will start to ask, in 2018/19 if we got the change we needed.
Mr Blais and his friends were upset at what the Harper government did and didn’t do about, for and to veterans … their response was Anybody But Conservatives … well, they got anybody and now they complain about “no sense of urgency.” My sense is that disenchantment will spread, starting after the 2017 budget, and it will grow, as I said, special interest group by special interest group, until support for the Liberals drops below 50%, below 40%, even below 30% in 200 of Canada’s 338 ridings.
Tactically, the Conservatives need:
- An NDP revival to challenge the Liberals, especially, in the big city centres and amongst younger Canadians who tend to reject the Conservative label without ever looking at the platform; and
- No real change in the global and national economic stagnation so that the cruel reality of Liberal fiscal follies will be on Canadians’ minds.
Strategically, it is up to Conservatives to be ready with a sound, principled, socially moderate, fiscally responsible (sorry veterans, sorry First Nations) platform that makes sense to most Canadians, and with a leader that Canadians, especially the millions and millions and millions of Canadians in smaller cities, the suburbs and small towns, can trust. The Conservatives need a “sense of urgency,” now about the 2019 campaign.