The Conservatives are looking for a new leader. But they have a lot of work to do before they hold a leadership convention. Hugh Segal writes that the last election proved how barren the party has become:
A campaign in which candidates are barred from attending all-candidates’ meetings, or responding to the media, is not a serious effort to seek and earn public favour as, in a democracy, incumbent governments must do. The respectful tone and thoughtful policy proposals that typified Stephen Harper’s earlier campaigns were absent. The reversion to nativism and the tin ear on humanitarian and human-rights issues were, if intended, shameful; if accidental, then grossly incompetent.
Under Harper, the party became a personality cult and forgot who they were. They stopped asking questions, assuming they had all the answers. Segal believes the following questions must be asked and answered:
Are we to continue repeating the mutual distrust between First Nations and the rest of Canada, or can we build something more inclusive? What is a real partnership and how would the Conservative view of society, identity, duty and opportunity differ from the present assurances?Is the previous “promise much but underdeliver” stance on Canada’s military deployability the best we can do? Are there other alternatives to the hopeful and aspirational “sunny ways” now in place, and to the Cold War rhetoric that seemed dominant over the past decade? Is there a solid world view that eschews both pessimism and unbridled optimism for a more nuanced, purpose-driven and pragmatic global stance?
The former senator has always been a progressive conservative. Under Harper, the party became fixated on the past -- on 19th century economics, on resources that powered the Industrial Revolution and on social structures best suited to feudal societies.
Before they choose a new leader, the Conservatives will have to learn to look forward, not backward.