The Manning Centre came to Ottawa this weekend to celebrate Conservatism Triumphant. And it demonstrated, yet again, the party's fatal flaw -- its garrison mentality. Richard Ciano, head of Campaign Research, told his audience that the barbarians were at the gate:
Any deliberate attempt to frustrate a voter’s desire to cast a ballot with fraud or misdirection is completely deplorable,” he said. “But I also observe that the Liberal and NDP’s systematic undermining of confidence in Canada’s electoral process, and fear mongering about virtually all forms of live or automated telephone calls to voters, is equally cynical and self-serving.”
Ciano says opposition parties are manipulating Canadians into believing they received phoney calls because they’ve realized they are not as good as the Conservatives at reaching the electorate. “Rather than pull up their sleeves and get to work to eliminate our advantage they want to take the typical socialist/big government approach to their problem,” he said. “Create a public crisis of confidence in telephone contact so that they can ban it at the next possible opportunity.”
It was classic Conservative boiler plate. You can't trust "the others."
Andrew Coyne had the temerity to suggest that the party had internal problems and had lost its way:
That party was for a robust Parliament, with more powerful MPs, free of the party whip. Needless to say you are not that party. That party was for a balanced federation of equal provinces. But you are now the party of asymmetric federalism and nations within nations.
That party was against breaking election promises. That party was against patronage and pork-barreling. And that party was against corruption and political dirty tricks. I don’t know whether you are still that party.
And Preston Manning opined that party campaign workers needed "ethical training."
But no one dared suggest that the party's big guns were ethically challenged. Therefore, no one should be surprised if Vic Toews continues to harrumph that his opponents lack moral rectitude. Nor should they be surprised when Tony Clement insists that the question all civil servants should ask themselves is, "How can I do my job in an excellent way at less cost to taxpayers?" And, of course, no one will bat an eye when Stephen Harper complains that he and his party are victims of a "smear campaign."
Analysis -- particularly self-analysis -- was never the Conservatives' strong suit. Swift and Rabelais would milk this cast of characters for all they are worth. They knew that there was no better subject for comedy than the wilfully blind.