A couple of days ago I said that “The Khadr payoff seems like a good issue with which to do both [instil “buyers’ remorse” into voters who supported Justin Trudeau while, at the same time, uniting the Conservative supporters], especially when harnessed with e.g. Cash for access; Doubts about free(er) trade with China; and Broken economic promises.” I picked those issues because I think all four “have legs” as the journalists say ~ all four are issues that really bother many, many (even most) Canadians. But even the Khadr story and broken economic promises have another side, a Liberal side: it is, indeed, more likely than not that an intransigent government would have lost to Omar Khadr in court, and Prime Minister Trudeau did campaign on running deficits, so he’s not really breaking promises, it’s just a debate about the size and duration of those deficits.
But I see that some of us, Conservatives, are focused, instead, on a Liberal decision to give $20 million to the Clinton Foundation which even the Toronto Sun agrees, in an editorial, is being given in pursuit of entirely laudable social goals, and of a (recently rescinded) decision by some unnamed official in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to remove some Israeli wines (those from vineyards in the disputed West Bank) from Canadian store shelves. Now, I have scant regard for Hillary Clinton, I think she’s almost as weak as I find Prime Minister Trudeau to be and I acknowledge that there remains controversy surrounding the way the Clinton Foundation is managed but focusing too much on a grant that aims, in part, to reverse a controversial aspect of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s foreign policy which restricted grants to agencies involved in women’s reproductive health if Canadian money might be used in ways that might offend the religious right. It was not a helpful issue for the CPC in 2011-15 and it’s not an issue we should want to rekindle. Equally, notwithstanding Prime Minister Harper’s wholly commendable and unstinting support of Israel, Canada has, under both Conservative and Liberal governments, supported a “two state” solution and has regarded Israel’s annexation of the West Bank as problematical … this is a position that polling suggests resonates with an overwhelming number of Canadians. Maybe a junior official who had, indeed, “not fully considered the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement when dealing with the matter” of Israeli wines, over-reacted or maybe a more senior official wanted to undo yet another of what (s)he saw a “Harper holdover,” it is still not an issue that resonates with a large number of Canadians.
There’s a reason why I, a highly vocal advocate for more (and “better”) defence spending did not include the defence review or defence spending etc in my list of major Liberal weaknesses: I don’t think most Canadians care enough. I do think they care about honest and integrity (“cash for access” being a key problem for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals), and I do believe they are, mostly, afraid of free(er) trade with China (even though I, personally, think they ought not to be) and I think that Canadians will vote from well funded fears about deficits that stretch out to 2050. Those are the big issues, I think … the ones we need to harness with e.g. the Khadr payoff and whichever Liberal scandal comes next in order to defeat the Liberals in 2019 and install Andrew Scheer (and his family) in (a newly renovated) 24 Sussex Drive.
Canadians, in my reading of history, are less likely to vote FOR a party (or a leader) than they are to vote AGAINST the incumbent. The urge to “throw the rascals out” is strong in Canada. We, the Conservative Party, need to have a strong, principled platform that says that we will not be dishonest, even corrupt spendthrifts and that reminds Canadians, over and over and over again, of why Justin Trudeau is not a good leader and cannot be trusted.