Federal Conservatives at the time of choice

The day after the elections, it was time to settle scores within the Conservative Party of Canada (PCC). Voices were already rising to demand a hasty referendum on Erin O’Toole’s leadership, presumed guilty of centrist high treason.

Ontario national “executive” member Bert Chen has launched an online petition seeking the hasty ejection of O’Toole, two years before the vote of confidence. Chen details the list of grievances he addresses to the leader as a preamble to his petition: he “betrayed the founding principles” of the party, he “shattered the confidence” of party members, he failed to get a sufficient number elected. of deputies to form the government.

The third and final complaint is factually correct. As for Chen’s first two complaints, they are more of a subjective appreciation of what the CCP should represent to the electorate. What are the principles so dear to the Conservatives scorned by O’Toole? The petition mentions the abandonment of fiscal responsibility, the decline in civil liberties with support for the vaccine passport and the opening up to carbon pricing.

Let us not assume the outcome of this initiative which, for the moment, takes on the appearance of an isolated gesture within the CCP. Party chairman Rob Batherson said to Hill Times that he contested the validity of the approach.

The episode is reminiscent of the strong tensions that remain within the CCP between radical aid and the moderate wing. Social conservatives (pro-arms, anti-abortion and climate-indolent) perceive in the centrist turn ofErin O’Toole the cause of the stagnation of the vote. The supporters of this current of thought have lost sight of a candidate closer to their values, Andrew Scheer, did little to bring the Conservatives to the brink of victory in 2019.

Erin O’Toole has only him to blame for the difficult position he finds himself in. During the leadership race, he had to ally himself with the right of the party to overcome an even more centrist opponent than himself, Peter MacKay, at the finish line. Its reframing lacked rootedness in party mores. In the ridings where the Conservatives were hoping to make inroads, in Ontario and Quebec, voters were not fooled by this very sincere turn for the leader, but as a facade for the party.

Critics of O’Toole within the party will point to the decline in support for the Conservatives in Alberta and British Columbia, as well as the rise of the clown vote from 2% to 5% for Maxime Bernier. This interpretation misses the point. The road to victory does not pass through saturation of the vote at 120% of the seats in the Prairies, but rather through the ability of the Conservatives to also reach out to the concerns of urban and peri-urban voters, a challenge that seems insurmountable without the elimination of the retrograde and moralistic aspects of the deep conservative vision, especially on gun control, abortion rights and the environment.

In their assessment of these harsh tomorrow, the Conservatives should not neglect the hypothesis that the decline of two members of Parliament in Alberta could result from a sanction vote against the Conservative government of Jason Kenney for its execrable management of the pandemic. Alberta, which hastily lifted the health emergency, has reached the point of requesting the assistance of the Red Cross and the Canadian military to avoid the implosion of its health system.

If the Kenneys of this world embody the vision of the Conservative movement, the future of the Liberals looks bright. In the absence of a proportional voting system, the result of the broken promises of Justin trudeau, the Canadian parliamentary system will remain based on bipartisanship and the alternation of power between formations of “national” scope. The sectarianism of the Green Party, the retreat of the NDP to the state of moral conscience of the PLC and the impossibility that the Bloc Quebecois can radiate beyond the borders of Quebec ensure that the CCP is the only alternative option to a liberal government which is theoretically possible.

To move from theory to practice, the CCP will have to resist the calls of its radical wing to sectarianism, and continue its laborious march towards centrism. This is not only possible, but desirable.

The couple formed by Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh will not shrink from any public expenditure in the coming years, without great consideration for the powers of the provinces and budgetary rigor. A healthy democracy requires that there can be a structured and pragmatic counterweight to voters. If they fail to do so, the Conservatives will have to make up their minds to accept that the Liberals do indeed form the ” natural governing party of Canada », With all the harmful consequences that this entails for democratic debate.

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