The Conservative caucus is not a collection of happy campers. Althia Raj writes:
The brewing tensions of the past three months, since the Conservatives’ disappointing election loss, came to a head last Wednesday in what one MP described as a “bloodbath.”
The blood spilled on the caucus floor belonged to party Leader Erin O’Toole, the MP offered in vivid detail. It was the culmination of weeks of frustration, anger, lies, betrayal, shifting alliances, scheming and plotting that have come to characterize the human drama behind the scenes between O’Toole and his caucus.
During the Tories’ last meeting, public dissenters were labelled “cowards” for airing their opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21 over social media. Social Conservatives, upset they’d taken one for the team on the Liberals’ conversion therapy ban, known as C-4, were livid that Red Tory colleagues were publicly celebrating the move, suggesting their views promoted hate and fear.
The appearance of the Omicron variant, coupled with O’Toole’s leadership troubles, has exposed deep fault lines within the Tories’ tenuous coalition. There are different cliques of MPs: those opposed to lockdowns, those upset with O’Toole’s reversal on carbon pricing, those upset with his hands-off approach to Bill 21, those upset over the rush to pass C-4, those who support C-4, those angry over Sen. Denise Batters’s expulsion from caucus, those upset by what they see as the public hanging of Alberta MP Shannon Stubbs.
The Conservatives have adopted the Republican model of grievance politics. But it's the grievances against each other that are tearing them apart:
In October, Conservative MPs adopted the Reform Act, giving themselves the power to call for a caucus leadership review or to expel caucus members. As long as 24 members requested it, a secret-ballot majority vote can boot the leader or a caucus member.
On. Nov. 16, the CBC cited “senior Conservative sources” saying 24 MPs had pledged to sign a letter requesting the removal of a colleague.
O’Toole had already appointed 78 MPs — of 118 — to his shadow cabinet. He packed his team with new MPs, those ideologically aligned and even some old allies who’d backed Peter MacKay during the last leadership contest over concerns O’Toole lacked the right leadership skills.
Now, O’Toole was suggesting he had the numbers to oust anyone.
Whether that’s true or not is unclear. But sitting as an Independent would likely doom an MP’s chances of re-election.
It was a period of fear, anxiety. People watched their backs.
This is not a government in waiting.
Image: The Toronto Star