Looking back it appears that Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole paid attention to all those military tactics lessons about the indirect approach. It was evident from the beginning that Peter MacKay was positioning himself to oust Andrew Scheer and coast to victory. Mr MacKay was, as I am, a progressive Conservative. Mr O’Toole proclaimed himself a “true blue” Conservative and then had to hope that fortune would favour his position. It did. The four candidates ranged from progressive (Mr MacKay) through centrists (Mr O’Toole and Dr Lewis) to social conservative (Mr Sloan) and Mr O’Toole’s strategy was to be everyone’s second choice, and it appears, from looking at the results of the three ballots that he was:
Mr Sloan finished a distant fourth on the 1st ballot and most of his “2nd choice” votes went to Dr Lewis. The key was that after the 2nd ballot, when Dr Lewis was eliminated, Mr O’Toole was, very clearly, the 2nd choice of her supporters. So, his tactic worked. He is a moderate who positioned himself to be
attractive acceptable to the Conservative Party‘s populist and socially conservative wings.
Now all the pundits, from every edge of the political spectrum, are pontificating about whether or how Mr O’Toole can or should or should not defeat Prime Minister Trudeau in an election which could come as early as this fall. Some of the advice is good; some is trying to explain why someone other than the anointed candidate, Peter MacKay won; and some is designed to sow the seeds of disruption amongst Conservatives.
I have already presented my wish list, and I will continue to bang on about policies I believe are good for Canada like rethinking how the CBC works, reconsidering how health care is funded; going green by going with Canadian nuclear energy; and having principled, strategically sound foreign and defence policies.
But Erin O’Toole has already enunciated a vision of his own in a full-blown platform document. Most people, including most pundits, haven’t bothered to read it. I have and I’m impressed. I don’t agree with every single item in Mr O’Toole’s platform; neither will you or any other thinking Canadian; but I agree with most of it. Most of it is moderate, common-sensical, fair-minded, practical, principled and achievable. The Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc and the others, and their friends in the media ~ especially in the CBC and The Star (Canada’s versions of Pravda and People’s Daily) will hate it because it is moderate, common-sensical, principled and so on, because …
… Erin O’Toole wants to do nothing less than take Canada back from the Laurentian Elites, the ideologues, the friends of Justin Trudeau and the sundry special interests that that resort to violence to score political points.
Andrew MacDougall, who was Stephen Harper’s head of communications, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “Mr. O’Toole won because he understood a core truth about his party better than his rival: that the Conservative Party of Canada is no longer the coalition of Progressive Conservatives and Reformists it was when Stephen Harper took the united party’s helm in 2004. The current coalition looks much different: It is more mistrustful of Bay Street and institutions and more in tune with the struggles of smaller communities.” That is something I have been saying for years: Conservatives need to have and hold and promote the values of Main Street, not Bay Street. I believe that Erin O’Toole has Main Street values and I also believe that he wants to bring those values back to the Canadian political mainstream … and I believe that’s a good thing for Canada.
The next steps are for Erin O’Toole to:
- Keep holding Justin Trudeau to account for his policy blunders and his ethical lapses;
- Introduce himself to more and more Canadians without letting the anti-Conservative media do it for him; and
- Expand on is platform.