It has not exactly been an inspiring race for the leadership of the Conservative Party, but then neither was the last one. Part of the perceived problem was the global pandemic but part of it was a quite unreasonable and, in fact, unreasoned, desire to have some newsworthy “fireworks.” Instead, four reasonable people debated four reasonable views. The range of views includes those which are unacceptable to some Conservatives …
… in different wings of the Party ~ and I think the range is not neatly linear but, rather looks a bit like this …
… with views, especially on social issues, going off in all directions.
After the 2015 election, I suspect that a number of top-drawer Conservatives, including John Baird and Peter Mackay decided to sit out the 2017 race, assuming, I guess, that Justin Trudeau would be a two-term prime minister. Rona Ambrose chose to be the party’s interim leader before she headed off to the private sector. There was a good, but not a great field in 2017 and, eventually, Andrew Scheer prevailed over Maxime Bernier with Erin O’Toole, who I favoured then, too, running a distant third. M Bernier didn’t accept the result and after heaping bitter criticism on the CPC he went off, in a huff, to form his own party. A broadly anti-Conservative media found so much fault with Andrew Scheer that he was unable to get past the issue of his own social-conservative values and make a coherent case to Canadians. Even after the SNC-Lavalin/Jody Wilson-Raybould and “blackface” scandals, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party was reelected.
Now it is time to vote again. The field in 2020 is OK, and I voted in this order:
Above all, I was saddened that more people did not enter or stay in the race. Why, I keep asking myself, have Candice Bergen and Michelle Rempel not improved their French? I accept and respect Pierre Poilievre’s reasons for not entering. I wish Rona Ambrose and John Baird had come back.
First, let me say that I respect Derek Sloan and while I neither share nor accept his views on too many issues I know that he speaks for a large constituency of good, honest decent people. But I could not give him even a fourth-place vote because that would indicate that I found some potential value in him as a party leader. I do not. I expect that Mr Sloan will finish a distant fourth but I also expect him to get a lot of media attention as many journalists try to paint the entire Conservative Party with his socially conservative brush. I also hope that the next leader will not offer Mr Sloan a critic role … and I would be surprised if Mr Sloan would accept one considering that it would almost certainly come with a requirement to promise to support the party’s socially moderate, even mildly progressive positions on e.g. same-sex marriage and abortion. Derek Sloan needs to be able to speak out in support of the socially conservative views of many Canadians. He needs to be able to do that from within the Conservative Party, but not from its front benches.
I like Peter MacKay. I hope he returns to politics. I thought he was an excellent foreign minister … even better than just “excellent.” But I cannot forgive Mr MacKay for his bungling of the defence portfolio. Back in 2012 Prime Minister Harper sent then Defence Minister MacKay a letter (that the PMO leaked) telling him to make further cuts in DND, specifically in the “overhead” found in too many, too large and too highly ranked HQs. Peter MacKay ignored that “advice.” The already bloated Headquarters continued to grow. It appeared to me, and to many others, that Mr MacKay was a ”captive” of the admirals and generals ~ maybe some sort of Stockholm Syndrome thing. It looked, to me, like he was supporting the admirals and generals, not his boss and the leader of the country. That was a very serious error in political and policy judgement which cannot be brushed aside.
I hope Dr Lewis runs and wins in the next election. She has a lot of good ideas and a lot to offer the party and the country. Her voice can only grow louder and clearer when she is in Parliament.
My first choice remains Erin O’Toole because I continue to believe that he is the sort of fiscally conservative, socially moderate, honest and responsible leader that Canada needs. I think that a Conservative team that he leads can beat Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in the next election. William F Buckley famously advised people to vote for the conservative candidate who is most likely to win. That, I suspect, is on the minds of many Conservatives this week and presages a close contest between Messers MacKay and O’Toole. I have made my choice.