The Conservative Party of Canada is a pretty fractious group. Consider each of the party's leadership candidates. Brent Rathgeber writes:
Kellie Leitch comes from the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Before entering politics, she worked with the late Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his wife Christine Elliot, and was encouraged to run by former Ontario premier Bill Davis. Her support for the ill-fated barbaric cultural practices tip line notwithstanding, Dr. Leitch qualifies as a ‘progressive’ conservative.
Tony Clement served under Mike Harris before entering federal politics. He is a former president of PC Ontario and was said to be close to Mike Harris. He can be a fiscal hawk. He’s also the king of pork-barrel politics, having infamously diverted G8 security money to unrelated projects in his own riding.
Michael Chong is both a Red Tory and a democratic reformer. The author of the Reform Act, he once quit a cabinet position on a matter of principle. He knows how responsible government and parliamentary democracy are supposed to work.
Although Deepak Obhrai is tied for the longest-serving Conservative MP record, I don’t recall ever having heard him give a speech on domestic politics. I’m not sure what he stands for. His interests lie primarily in global affairs. If nothing else, the Tanzanian-born politician’s entry into the race shows that the CPC is still relevant to new Canadians.
Max Bernier is the darling of the libertarian wing. His plans to abolish supply management and end industrial subsidies also appeal to fiscal hawks and free-market classical liberals. But his live-and-let-live attitudes on social issues put him in direct conflict with Brad Trost, who entered the race yesterday.
Trost is unapologetically pro-life and anti-gay marriage. At the May CPC convention in Vancouver, Trost was the MP spokesperson for delegates opposed to a resolution deleting from official Tory policy the traditional ‘one-man-one-woman’ definition of marriage.
Each sect in the party has its candidate. But you see the problem. There appears to be no one who can bridge the divides. And those divides could tear the party apart. Conservatives may soon be asking the same question the Republicans are asking: Can the party survive its leader?