Veteran political commentator Gloria Galloway, writing in the Ottawa Citizen, says, and I agree 100%, that “The Conservatives are, understandably, bitter about losing the 2019 race. It seemed an easy stroll to victory given the blackface incident and other foibles of the Liberals and leader Justin Trudeau.” But, she adds, “though the Tories took the largest share of the popular vote, their path back to power over the next 10 years will not be easy.“
The basic problem, she explains is that the Conservatives “appeal to a narrower range of voters than do the Liberals who can shift left, right and sideways depending on political winds. Tories tend to fragment into pieces, with the far right forming splinter parties, when they move to the centre where the votes are more plentiful. And,” she observes, very correctly, in my opinion, “they skewered themselves by earlier eliminating the per-vote subsidy and financially hobbling the NDP … [because] … Only when the New Democrats are robust is Liberal power diminished … [and she observes that] … The Conservatives won their majority in 2011 under Stephen Harper when the New Democrats had a strong candidate in Jack Layton, a native son of Quebec who was able to appeal to the people of that province and draw votes away from the Liberals. But the New Democrats are now a shadow of their 2011 selves and their return to prominence in the near future is doubtful given their precarious financial situation …[and] … Quebec has returned to the Bloc Québécois and the Liberals, which makes a Conservative win more difficult.” But, Ms Galloway observes that “A strong and charismatic leader who can capture the hearts of Quebeckers and win the suburbs of metropolitan Ontario could give the Conservatives a shot at a majority government.“
“But, at this point,” Gloria Galloway says, as 2019 comes to a close, “it is much easier to predict that the 2020s will see a series of minorities, and most, if not all, will be Liberal.” Ouch!
Ms Galloway quotes Duane Bratt, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, who says that “the Conservatives of the next 10 years will face the same problem that has dogged them through history. Their strength is in western Canada and rural Ontario. And when they try to appeal to Quebec and red Tories in Ontario, they risk losing their base … [although] … Harper held the party together on the strength of his leadership, his track record in the Reform Party, and by periodically giving gifts to the hard right. But that is a skill most politicians don’t have … [he says, and] … Even if western separatism is not a serious movement, the West’s influence in the country will grow both because of population shifts and economic clout … [and that, Professor Bratts adds] … is something that all future leaders of any political stripe will have to heed.“
Gloria Galloway says, and I agree, “That does not mean the party leaders of the next decade must come from the West.” In fact, I would say that the next leader must have a mix of Stephen Harper’s strong, personal leadership ability, and, simultaneously, an ability “to appeal to Quebec and red Tories in Ontario” without losing the Western (and small-town Ontario) “base” which is growing in importance.
Ms Galloway quotes Henry Jacek, a professor emeritus of political science at McMaster University who says that “the Conservatives will have more luck if they choose someone from Ontario – someone with the charisma of Brian Mulroney who can keep the party together even as it adopts a more centrist platform to broaden its appeal.“
I will not go that far, but the next leader must recapture the suburban seats around Toronto. I believe that any of Rona Ambrose (AB), Peter MacKay (NS), James Moore (BC) and Erin O’Toole (ON), all of whom are I think, adequately bilingual* ~ like it or not that’s an absolute requirement to lead the Conservative Party ~ can fill the bill:
Of course, there are other potential contenders. Former BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark, Michelle Rempel-Garner (AB) and Pierre Poilievre, Brad Wall (SK) and former Liberal Martha Hall Findlay have also been mentioned as potential leaders:
All of which is to affirm that the CPC has a first-rate, Trans-Canada, stable of talented men and women … any of whom might give Team Trudeau (or Team Freeland) nightmares, and I haven’t even mentioned several potential candidates including e.g. John Baird (ON), Candice Bergen (MB) or sitting Premiers Jason Kenney, Brian Pallister and Doug Ford.
I agree with Ms Galloway when she concludes that if the Conservatives don’t pick the right leader then “the Liberals will very much enjoy the third decade of this century.“
* My definition of ‘adequacy‘ in one’s second language is that a Conservative Anglophone must be as proficient in French as Jean Chrétien was in English. Prime Minister Chrétien may have mangled the grammar and syntax but he understood almost every question ~ even when a few people tried to be obscure, to prompt a flawed response ~ and he was able to say something that, usually, made enough sense. Now, I expect that the French language media in Canada will demand a much higher standard of second language proficiency than the English media accepted from Jean Chrétien, but I think most French Canadians will accept ‘comprehensible’ rather than ‘near perfect.’ But, see, also, my earlier comments on debates.