Andrew Scheer's leadership of the Conservative Party, Tom Walkom writes, is doomed -- because he cannot win in Ontario:
The Conservatives did gain three more Ontario seats. However, their share of the popular vote in Ontario dropped by two percentage points.
More importantly, they were unable to unseat Liberal incumbents in huge swaths of the so-called 905 belt outside Toronto. In Toronto itself, the Conservatives were completely shut out.
The main reason is that Scheer failed to connect with Red Tories.
Red Tories represent the dominant form of Conservatism in Ontario. They are typically moderate. They are amenable to using government to achieve useful social ends. They generally value co-operation.
Premier Doug Ford has belatedly come to understand the importance of the Red Tory vote in Ontario. That’s why his Progressive Conservative government is so busy backing away — rhetorically at least — from its initial hard-line positions.
But the problem isn't just Scheer. It's the Conservative Party itself. It's still stuck in Stephen Harper mode. When it ditched the Progressive Conservative brand, it sealed its fate. And, despite the Liberal Party's brand, Justin Trudeau assumed the Progressive Conservative mantle:
Ontario’s ever so practical Red Tories know from experience that refinery shutdowns and turmoil in the Middle East have more effect on gasoline prices than Ottawa’s carbon tax.
Indeed, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s entire strategy for dealing with climate change could have come from a Red Tory playbook.
It emphasizes balance — in this case, the balance between economic and environmental needs. It suggests action without getting bogged down in the details of what this action will accomplish. It allows people to think they are doing something about the climate problem without requiring them to bear a hefty cost. And it is based not on government fiat but on market pricing.
To win, the Conservatives are going to have to do more than ditch their leader. They're going to have to ditch their program. That won't be easy.