Updated: May 30, 2022
After watching the Conservative leadership campaigns and debates over the past several weeks, we’re now at the point where it’s pretty easy to understand the different ideas and themes from the six different leadership camps.
As we’ve written recently, there are centrist leadership qualities that we believe are necessary to lead a cohesive and united Conservative Party of Canada to a majority government in the next federal election. Have all six of the leadership candidates demonstrated these qualities enough to earn the support of centrist conservatives who would like to see our base expanded and our support strengthened among
That’s up to Conservative members to decide. From our centrist conservative viewpoint, however, there’s been a mix of really good, somewhat bad, and downright ugly.
Let’s start with the good.
In our view at Centre Ice Conservatives, all six leadership candidates have elements of their platforms and their backgrounds that could attract centrist Canadians.
At one time or another, each and every one of the six has advanced strong ideas on key issues like supply management, housing, national unity, inflation, infrastructure, foreign policy, LGBTQ and women’s rights, and support for families, farmers, and firearms owners. All six of them hold or have held elected office at either the provincial or federal level.
And, in speaking to the three candidates that have agreed to sit with us for one-on-one interviews –
Jean Charest, Roman Baber, and Scott Aitchison – we’ve seen how warm, genuine and gracious they can be in commenting on the attributes of their competitors. In our books, this goes a long way.
Now, for the bad.
Some of the campaigns appear to be focussing on courting a specific and narrow segment of the Conservative membership in search of leadership race success. This appeal to these subsets of Canadian electors carries with it a larger risk, with a considerable downside. Why is that? Simply because most Canadians don’t agree with what they hear most often from some of the leadership camps. Conspiracy theories about the World Economic Forum and World Health Organization are not dinner
table issues for most mainstream Canadians. Investing in the ultra-volatile cryptocurrency market won’t help everyday Canadians opt-out of inflation. Chasing votes in the anti-vaccine movement won’t endear us to the millions of Canadians who did the right thing and got the jab. Sadly, the list of issues like this grows longer by the day.
There are meaningful discussions to be had about public health policy, monetary policy, and Canada’s place on the world stage. Reasonable people can – and indeed should – engage in conversation about any and all of those issues in a constructive way. But, when those conversations move to the fringes, there’s a serious risk of alienating the mainstream Canadians we need to attract if we want to win.
Candidates serious about becoming the next Prime Minister must keep that in mind.
And, here’s where the “ugly” comes in – the differences in opinion among the candidates on these issues have led to bitter and often personal attacks on each other. The degree of anger between leadership camps is at a level unseen in previous contests.
As a result, whoever wins this competition will have a huge hill to climb in healing the rifts. Presenting a united Conservative voice that can appeal to mainstream Canadians will be more challenging after this leadership race than it has been in the past.
Every Canadian who takes out a Conservative membership before June 3rd will have the opportunity to make their decision on which candidate is best positioned to unite the party and win over the country. It’s our hope that, when looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly of this contest, our Party members will support those candidates with a clear, strong, centrist vision that will welcome more Canadians to the Conservative tent
For, at the end of the day, the Conservative Party of Canada can only be successful if it broadens its base and focuses on attracting the thousands of centrist, pragmatic Canadians that feel left behind by the current government