Is anyone surprised?

Is anyone really surprised at the amount of discussion that this short (45 second) video clip is generating?

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The National Post said, yesterday, that “The social conservative wing of the Conservative Party looks set to have at least one flag-bearer in the leadership race, as former party staffer Richard Décarie is collecting signatures and has a network forming behind him … [and M Décarie said on Tuesday that] … “All the so-cons are mobilizing behind me because I’m the only candidate who is running that actually represents their values”.”

Richard Décarie is a strategic communication consultant (that means he’s a public relations “flack” who knows how to get your name, or his own, into the news). He was Deputy Chief of Staff to Stephen Harper way back when Mr Harper was the Leader of the Official Opposition, in 2003-2005 ~ about 15 years ago. So he is, as CTV News and the National Post say, a “former party staffer” but there needs to be a lot of emphasis on that word former.

Is he a serious candidate? Is he even a real candidate, yet? The CPC‘s Leadership Contestant Questionnaire (LCQ) reportedly asks if a potential candidate has “ever been accused of or engaged in activities that promote discrimination.” In light of what some very prominent Conservative MPs have to say …

can he be a candidate? Can the election committee accept him? Pierre Poilievre says “The comments are as unacceptable as they are ignorant. You do not speak for Conservatives – or for Canadians,” and Michelle Rempel-Garner says that “I vehemently reject this message. I will not serve under someone whose leadership pitch is that someone’s sexuality is something to be “fixed”. I am full on tired of this type of shit defining the conservative movement in Canada.

I am 100% with Ms Rempel-Garner, and that’s why I ask: is he a real candidate? Or is he just trying, and succeeding in stirring up trouble for the Conservative Party of Canada?

There are some serious candidates in the race …

… and perhaps even more to come. I’m not convinced that Richard Décarie is one of them. But I am not surprised that he made it on to Evan Solomon’s national political TV show … he, M Décarie, is spouting something “newsworthy:” Conservatives, he is saying, are prejudiced. That’s a message that some Canadians already believe ~ it follows on from the sense, during the 2019 election campaign, that Andrew Scheer was trying to hide from his own socially conservative instincts. It’s the old “hidden agenda” thing about which Liberals have been lying for a decade. Richard Décarie’s views are also controversial, which makes them good for TV ~ there’s an old media adage which says that “if it bleeds, it leads,” in other words, the exciting story gets the big headlines and sells papers. If Mr Soloman had had Erin O’Toole on, discussing say foreign or fiscal policy his show would not have garnered nearly as much attention.

I’m not faulting Evan Soloman for asking the question. M Décarie, most likely, asked to be on his show and promised to say something newsworthy. I don’t tune in to “Power Play.” except on a very occasional basis, (nor do I watch “Power and Politics,” except on a most irregular basis) (I sometimes, more often, watch clips and excerpts online) so I don’t know if Evan Solomon has, yet, interviewed the serious announced candidates like Marilyn Gladu, Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Pierre Poilievre. If he did, their views didn’t seem to have created as much impact … most likely because they don’t paint the CPC as a party of social-conservative extremists.

I believe that social conservatives are fully entitled to hold and propagate their views. I believe that the CPC should be a big tent party that, unlike the Trudeau Liberals, does not force people to submerge their own, deeply held, moral values in order to run for office.

IF Richard Décarie can raise enough money and IF he can gather enough support and IF his stated views do not disqualify him, because he promotes discrimination, then I sincerely hope that all the other leadership candidate and most CPC MPs will roundly denounce him and his views and promise that they will never support such horrid notions.

I also hope that the Canadian media will decide to inform rather than just try to excite the public, and will invite other Conservatives to tell the dull, boring truth: Canadian Conservatives are socially moderate pragmatists who do not want to tun the clock back to the 1930s, who do not want to throw gay people into jails or off rooftops, but who do believe in free speech, even when it is, occasionally, painful.

 

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