John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “Partly out of genuine concern, partly out of sheer devilment, supporters of Maxime Bernier stirred up trouble for new Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer over the past week. But the rebellion fizzled, in part because of a funny line … [because] … In the midst of the vote-count brouhaha, Mr. Scheer dispatched any danger of buyer’s remorse when he bested Justin Trudeau in a Question Period exchange.” Why was M. Bernier stirring up trouble? Mr Ibbitson suggests that “the Bernier camp was seeking change and influence, according to those who know what they’re talking about … [and] … Mr. Bernier’s followers also want to remind Mr. Scheer that the new leader’s win was narrow and unanticipated; that Mr. Bernier has as much support among the party membership as Mr. Scheer, and that this support must be accommodated, both in policy choices and in staffing.“
It’s no secret.I hope, that:
- Neither Mr. Scheer now M. Bernier were my first choice ~ that was Erin O’Toole; but
- I probably supported just as many of M. Bernier’s positions as I did Mr O’Toole’s; and
- I am happy enough with Mr Scheer as leader.
I watched with interest as the British Conservative Party just about blew and election in which they had a massive, 20%, lead when the campaign opened partially because of policy issues.
One of the problems was that Mrs May herself and other Conservative candidates talked about e.g. a means test and fox hunting. There is some speculation that these policies cost the Conservatives their absolute majority. And I think there is an analogue to Canadian Conservatism …
I think what we saw was that moderation, supported by one of the two wings of the Party won in Canada. I see the Conservative Party as having a strong libertarian (which is, perforce) socially liberal wing and a strong social conservative wing, too. I think that neither can get us elected. While I supported many of M. Bernier’s policies* I could not make him my first choice because, as with the “means testing” issue in the UK, I thought that he could not be elected on them. His libertarian views are too much for too many moderate Canadians and we must win the moderate vote if we want to restore good, responsible government to Canada. It appears that Mr Scheer triumphed because the social conservative vote didn’t split evenly ~ Mr Trost’s supporters went to Mr Scheer as 2nd and 3rd choice and then so did Erin O’Toole’s. But, and this is a BIG BUT: we cannot be elected if we allow our social conservative/religious right wing to have too much influence. I have said, again and again, that we must respect the sincere beliefs of our social conservative members and allow them to speak but we MUST, always, without fail, understand and agree that most social conservative issues are settled in law and in custom and they cannot be changed. They are the equivalent of fox hunting in the UK, ditto for gun laws ~ we can make the gun laws a bit less draconian for most law abiding gun owners but we mustn’t campaign on rolling back gun control or abortion rights or gay marriage, etc. If we do we’ll loose: that’s the lesson from the UK.
The lesson is: we can have a strong libertarian wing, a “home” for fiscal hawks like me, but we mustn’t be allowed to speak out in the general election campaign nor given the levers of power when we win, as we can in 2019. Equally we can have a strong social-conservative wing in the Party but it, too, must agree that winning, for the broad benefit of most (moderate) Canadians is more important than imposing their views on the country.
* But wile I, for example, fully support getting rid of silly protectionist policies like dairy price support, since we have them I prefer to trade them away, in international free(er) trade negotiations, rather than to just “give” them away.