Michael Harris writes that Andrew Scheer will have to go. Canadians know he's a fraud:
I don’t know what Scheer’s vacuous grin was supposed to convey during the campaign. But if it was to give the impression of the benevolent guy next door, the one who would help you shovel out after the blizzard, or look after your cat when you were out of town, it flopped.
Scheer was slippery as an eel on the abortion issue, adrift on same-sex marriage, sneaky about his dual citizenship until he was outed by the Globe and Mail. He also failed to convince voters that he wouldn’t take a chainsaw to social programs if elected — just as political cousins Doug Ford and Jason Kenney have already done in Ontario and Alberta.
And then there was the devious way he released his costed campaign platform — after the TV debates. Even the day he chose was sneaky, the Friday before Thanksgiving. You know, the day everyone is obsessing about whether it will be broccoli or Brussels sprouts.
But Scheer isn't the biggest problem the Conservative Party faces. The number one problem is the party's platform:
So Scheer has to go if the CPC want to rise from the ashes of the 2019 election. But that is a small part of the job, and by far the easier part. There will be no shortage of replacements waiting in the wings but it can’t be the darkest part of the right wing. It can’t be Peter MacKay, who lost his progressive credentials ten years ago, or John Baird, who never had any. And it can’t be the man they both served, Stephen Harper.
As Philippe J. Fournier notes in Maclean’s, “among the 60 electoral districts with the highest population density in Canada, the Conservatives won a grand total of zero.” In other words, the route to victory these days is by appealing to the educated, urban and socially progressive, not a cabal of gun-loving, climate denying, xenophobic, northern Republicans who have never seen a social program or a foreign aid plan that they didn’t want to cancel.
Stephen Harper used that group as his base for the near decade his party was in power. Even then, the only time the CPC could produce a majority government was in 2011, when the NDP pulled off the Orange Miracle, copped 30 percent of the popular vote, and got more than 100 seats in parliament. Without a strong NDP, the CPC is a regional party constantly brushing up on its skills at undermining democracy at every election.
The man who is the godfather of the Conservative Party -- Preston Manning -- knows how the party needs to evolve:
Preston Manning understood the need for policy renewal when he told me that the two key issues that move millennial voters are social justice and the environment. The man who founded the Reform Party and gave Stephen Harper his first job said that these should be “sword” not “shield” issues for Conservatives.
Which is another way of saying that the absolute worst thing the CPC could do is conclude that the path back to respectability is merely about changing the messenger, not the message.
Will the Conservatives follow Manning's advice? That's an open question.
Image: The Tyee