I see in a report in the Huffington Post (which, by the way, I do NOT regard as a highly reliable source) that “The Indian High Commission says a story being used by Conservatives to attack the federal government over the Jaspal Atwal affair is false … [and] … International media reports claimed a bilateral meeting between India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was scrapped as a result of waning relations after the prime minister’s first official visit to India earlier this year … [further, these] … stories cite “highly placed Indian officials” who claimed Swaraj cancelled an April bilateral meeting scheduled after the two met in February … [but] … “There was no meeting scheduled between External Affairs Minister of India and her Canadian counterpart in Ottawa,” Indian High Commission press secretary Sunil Kumar Sharma wrote in an email Friday … [and] … Freeland’s office also said the report is not true and that “no such meeting was in the works.”” OK, so the Opposition Leader’s propaganda team fell for a false story … it’s happened before, in Canada and elsewhere, to the best PR teams in government and in opposition, and it will happen again … it’s a wee bit embarrassing but harmless, right?
But, I am also concerned about stories, which I suspect might be true that say that Andrew Scheer’s leadership campaign benefitted from an organized push by Quebec dairy farmers to scupper Maxime Bernier’s campaign which included a promise ~ one which I endorse fully ~ to do away with with “supply management” for Canadian egg and dairy farmers. There’s also nothing really wrong with “summer soldiers” in leadership campaigns, I think many have had them but it suggests, to me, anyway, that Andrew Scheer has not unified his party behind his leadership.
I’m further concerned that it looks like some Conservatives may be trying to push Brad Trost out of the Party. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with Mr Trost on almost everything and I’m not unhappy that he lost his nomination race in Saskatoon-University but I worry about the appearance that he’s being silenced because his beliefs don’t match some CPC template. I’m something of a social libertarian and maybe that’s why I think everyone ought to be able to express their personal beliefs, in public, so long as they do not try to impose them on anyone else. I though Prime Minister Harper got this almost exactly right: Conservatives may hold and express a range of views but the a Conservative government will only pursue certain polices and it will not revisit settled issues.
It’s no secret, I think, that Mr Scheer was not my choice for Conservative leader, nor was M Bernier. I thought, and still think, that there was one, maybe two people who would have been better leaders … but that’s all water under the bridge now, unless Maxime Bernier intends to reopen the issue and blow the Conservative Party apart. Andrew Scheer is the leader and the Party needs to unite behind him … but it looks like it’s not doing that.
Things look dreadful for Prime Minister Trudeau right now in the wake of the India fiasco and as he faces the highly unlikely prospect that he can make B.C. Premier Horgan back down on the Trans Mountain pipeline issue. The CPC should be riding high; it should be, clearly, a united, competent government in waiting … but it’s not. Poll after poll shows that Canadians still neither know nor seem to much care about Andrew Schreer; they still think Justin Trudeau is a better leader than Mr Scheer. The Liberals are driving away their supporters but they are not flocking to the Conservatives or the NDP, they are moving into the undecided column and they may, once again, move back under the LPC banner if they cannot find any better alternative .
The Conservatives are going full bore on the attack but they are almost silent their objective. They have, thus far, little or nothing to offer when it comes to saying what they would do on e.g.
- Carbon taxes;
- NAFTA and, indeed, the whole Canada-US file;
- Syria ~ and the whole Middle East;
- Free(er) trade with China;
- Supply management and interprovincial trade;
- Relations with India;
- Climate change and the environmental movement;
- New jet fighters to replace the 35 years old CF-18s;
- First Nations; and
- Getting prairie oil to tidewater.
For example, on social media Andrew Scheer says that “A tax is a tax … [and] … Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax is a forced collection of money for his government’s coffers. The reality is that Canadians pay more for gas, home heating, and basic necessities. All the Liberal spin in the world doesn’t change that.” True enough, as far as it goes, but it begs the question: “So what? What will Andrew Scheer’s Conservative Government do?” Do they oppose all carbon taxes? Will they find some other way to price carbon? It’s fine to oppose what Justin Trudeau does and says, but what is the Conservative alternative? And how, faced with growing provincial opposition to the federal government asserting itself when, almost inevitably in a federation, jurisdictions collide, will a Conservative government deal with issues like British Columbia’s challenges to the Kinder Morgan plan? Canadians need to have better choices.
A week is a long time in politics is a truth made famous by being attributed to former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson …
… there are just over 75 of those “long times” until Canadians go to the polls again in October of next year. And a lot can change in any one of them. Andrew Scheer has got to do three things, in my view, in the coming “long times:”
- Make himself known to Canadians and, simultaneously, give Canadians reasons to respect and trust him;
- Persuade Canadians that he leads an honest, competent, united Conservative team that is ready and has a plan to govern Canada in their (Canadians’) best interests; and
- Offer Canadians sensible, achievable and popular alternatives to what Justin Trudeau has done, is doing and will do.
I am convinced that Team Trudeau will continue to screw up ~ I really, honestly believe that, brilliant as they are at campaigning, they are not well equipped to govern. But the CPC cannot count on that; it is very, very rare for governments to defeat themselves after only one term. This government will slip and slide to victory unless the Conservatives are, clearly, seen to be a better alternative … not just any alternative, as the Trudeau Liberals were in 2015, but a party, a team with a coherent vision for Canada that makes sense to Canadians. They, the Conservative Party of Canada, must, in other words plot a course to victory in October 2019. My feeling ~ that’s all it is ~ is that Conservatives are not yet sufficiently united behind Andrew Scheer to plot that course, in fact I’m not so sure they haven’t “lost the plot” on not just opposing Prime Minister Trudeau’s blunders, but offering Canadians a better alternative.