Stephen Harper told us that we wouldn't recognize Canada when he was through with it. These days, there are lots of Conservatives who don't recognize their party. In the wake of the party's rejection of Chess Crosbie's candidacy, Michael Harris writes, John Crosbie has been receiving phone calls:
When former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney calls from Rome to express sympathy and outrage that Ches Crosbie was blocked from running as a Conservative candidate in the 2015 federal election, you know the Conservative Party of Canada has a big problem.
Nor does that problem get any smaller, when former Conservative cabinet minister Jim McGrath calls to add his voice to the political maelstrom triggered by this blunder of epic proportions.
“The party has gone to hell,” he told his former cabinet colleague and fellow Newfoundlander.
And the elder Crosbie doesn't buy the line that the decision was entirely out of the prime minister's hands:
When asked about the prime minister’s hand in this, Crosbie replied, “There is no way that he didn’t know. It’s like the Duffy matter.”
The word is that Harper didn't enjoy the younger Crosbie's skewering of the Cowboy from Etobicoke. But Conservative candidate Kevin O'Brien once claimed that Harper had "no integrity." There is more behind the Crosbie saga:
A far more plausible reason is that Ches Crosbie looks like he would be headed to trial this September on a ground-breaking class action suit representing 1,000 clients in a case involving allegations of physical and sexual abuse at five Indian Residential Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
For historical reasons, indigenous people from Newfoundland and Labrador were left out of the compensation package for First Nations, and also from Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology for the Residential Schools. The Harper government denied responsibility for schools that opened before the province joined Confederation in 1949.
It's one thing to apologize to Canada's First Nations. It's something else again to seek justice for them. Ches Crosbie will do just that. Justice is not in Stephen Harper's DNA. Long time Conservatives understand that.
That's why the Conservative Party is falling apart. The centre cannot hold.