As the Conservatives analyze the reasons for their defeat, Duncan Cameron writes, they will have to confront a fundamental question: Who, exactly, are they?
Scheer is not a Canadian Conservative -- indeed, Scheer and the CPC have little in common with the former Progressive Conservative (PC) party, familiarly known as the Tories after their British counterparts, and incarnated by leaders such as R.B. Bennett, John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark.
Historically, Canadian PCs have been wary of U.S. domination of the economy, loyal to principles of British cabinet government, protective of institutions such as the courts, universities, banks, churches and military, and anxious to protect the weak and vulnerable from the excesses of liberal capitalism.
Successful PC premiers from Peter Lougheed in Alberta to John Robarts in Ontario believed government spending could prevent the worst and bring out the best in people; that they as leaders had a duty to the less fortunate in society, providing security for the future for young families and elders alike.
The roots of today's Conservative Party are planted in the soil Ernest Manning -- Preston's father -- plowed. That soil:
bear[s] the imprint of Preston's father, longtime Alberta premier Ernest C. Manning, whose political fortunes were buoyed by the 1947 big oil discovery in Leduc, just south of Edmonton.
In his book Political Realignment: A Challenge to Thoughtful Canadians (1967), Manning père called for the formation of an explicitly right-wing social conservative party to offset the centre-left movement in federal politics by Tories and Liberals that culminated in the adoption of medicare.
Just like the United Conservative Party (UCP) in Alberta and the Doug Ford PC party of Ontario, the CPC ran a campaign mimicking U.S. Republicans: presenting themselves to voters as a low-tax, anti-government party, comfortable with a social conservative agenda.
Stephen Harper, Andrew Scheer, Jason Kenney and Doug Ford are Northern Republicans:
The unpopularity of Ford was widely credited for undermining Scheer in Ontario. Indeed, Ford's unpopularity extends outside Ontario to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, where government is recognized as positive and necessary, not just as too expensive and a target for cutbacks.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney waited until after the federal election before introducing his dramatic budget cuts to essential services, cities, cultural industries, the arts, public universities and colleges (but not Christian private higher education). Had he revealed his plans earlier, the Trudeau Liberals might have kept a foothold in Alberta.
Jagmeet Singh is returning the NDP to its roots. The Conservatives should also consider that path. They make lousy Republicans. And Canadians know it.