Michael Harris writes that Stephen Harper can't save the Conservative Party. Neither can anyone in his cabinet:
The essential reason that no Harper cabinet minister can ride to the party’s rescue is that they are all part of the problem. They all bought in to the model Harper built for winning and holding power. But the model was flawed, the principles it espoused were inimical to civil public life, and now people are throwing off this Steve-Power that he tried to pass off as conservatism and democracy. If Canadians no longer want the organ grinder, why would they want the monkeys?
If the party is to survive, Harris writes, it will have to return to its progressive roots:
Ironically, it is the Red Tories, the ‘progressive conservatives’, who could turn out to be the party messiahs. The Conservative Party of Canada still has some stellar assets.
One of them is Senator Hugh Segal — not as a contender himself but a wise counsellor. Segal combines the political rigour of a moderate conservative with the credentials of a true intellectual. He knows who he is but there is room in his world for other voices.
Another is former Harper cabinet minister Jim Prentice, who embraced science as Environment minister instead of smothering it, and who decided the Harper-cult being built in Ottawa was not for him. Talent with scruples.
Finally, there is Michael Chong, the quiet man from Fergus, Ont. with the first-class mind and sense of integrity to match. He gave up his minister’s perks when Stephen Harper declared Quebec a nation — a decision taken by the prime minister alone, without consulting cabinet. Chong knows that better than most; he was minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and he knew that what the PM had done was not exactly democracy in action. Again, talent with scruples.
The problem is that Mr. Harper -- with Peter Mackay's help -- decimated the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. There may not be enough of it left to stage a comeback. And that is the ultimate irony. Stephen Harper's "strong, stable, majority Conservative government" has been its -- and the country's -- worst enemy.