The Conservative Party of Canada is fracturing. That split was on display on Canada Day. Andrew Perez writes:
Last month, the federal Conservative Party’s two most prominent figures released videos celebrating Canada Day that were at complete odds with one another.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s video was meticulously crafted on the streets of urban Canada with the backdrop of a LGBTQ pride flag, featuring visible minority Canadians intermingling.
Candice Bergen, the party’s deputy leader, also released a Canada Day video that could not have been more unlike O’Toole’s in both symbolism and substance. Flanked by Canadian and Royal Union flags, Bergen used her video to unleash a divisive culture war.
“We can’t give in to cancel culture. We can’t give in to those who want to erase who we are as Canadians and what we stand for,” avowed Bergen in a video reinforced by images and footage of the military, rural landscapes, and white Canadians.
Yesterday, O'Toole was in Belleville, Ontario, claiming that Trudeau's Liberals have forgotten rural Canadians and his party will change all of that. But, despite the rhetoric, the divide is also glaringly apparent when it comes to policy:
There are also stark policy cleavages that over the past year have bitterly divided O’Toole’s Conservatives into two broad camps. Three fundamental disagreements have emerged among the caucus and grassroots that touch upon core social, environmental, and economic policies.
On social policy, over half of the Conservative caucus voted against the Trudeau government’s Bill C-6 to ban gay conversion therapy — a barbaric practice designed to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The government bill exposed a deep rift in O’Toole’s caucus when 62 MPs opposed the bill at third reading, while 57 MPs supported the legislation. Although O’Toole and his more progressive colleagues supported the bill, Bergen and several prominent members of O’Toole’s shadow cabinet opposed the legislation, arguing it would criminalize normal conversations between children and parents regarding sexual orientation.
The vote results sent a torpedo through O’Toole’s caucus, fuelling a public relations nightmare for the party on social media. The vote also split the caucus along urban-rural lines outside Quebec, with a majority of Tory MPs from urban and suburban English Canada supporting the bill, while their rural counterparts overwhelmingly opposed the legislation.
On environmental policy, the caucus and grassroots have become bitterly divided over O’Toole’s pledge to include a carbon price on consumer fuels in the party platform. Climate policy experts have praised the climate plan as credible, but many veteran party activists derided the plan’s carbon savings account as a bizarre, administratively complex mechanism concocted for purely political reasons. The policy, styled as a “carbon levy,” has become a difficult pill for Conservatives to swallow.
So, can a house divided against itself withstand an election? We'll soon find out.
Image: In My Own Words