Konrad Kakabuski speculates that we may soon see a rebooted Progressive-Conservative Party of Canada:
The party looks set to embrace the grievance politics of U.S. Republicans and the European far right, just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow Liberals always hoped it would. They know that, faced with a Conservative Party leader who gives succour to misguided anti-vaxxers, angry truckers and right-wing conspiracy theorists, mainstream Canadian voters will opt for the comparatively safe Liberals, no matter how irritatingly woke the party’s leadership becomes.
Some supporters of Poilievre rival Jean Charest have concluded as much and are already musing about the creation of a new centre-right political party that would look, well, a lot like the old Progressive Conservative Party Mr. Charest led between 1993 and 1998.
Oddly enough, the possibility of creating a new-old political home for Red Tories has even been publicly evoked by the co-chairperson of Mr. Charest’s current leadership campaign, political consultant Tasha Kheiriddin. That has only further fuelled charges that the former Liberal premier of Quebec is not a real Conservative.
Speculation that a new political party could be launched once Mr. Poilievre has officially locked up the leadership is also being stoked by a group that calls itself Centre Ice Conservatives. It is holding a conference in Edmonton next month to provide a platform for political orphans. Ms. Kheiriddin is slated to speak at the event, along with former Liberal British Columbia premier Christy Clark.
The union of the old Progressive-Conservatives and Stephen Harper's Reform Party was never really a marriage. It was a hostile takeover and Red Tories were never welcome in the new party:
It is not for nothing that former PC prime minister Brian Mulroney, who once considered party loyalty sacrosanct, recently said he does not recognize himself in the current Conservative Party. The only alternative left for Red Tories like Mr. Charest, Ms. Kheiriddin and Mr. Peterson is to start anew.
La Presse columnist Yves Boisvert wrote this week that a person close to the Charest campaign had suggested that Mr. Charest might seek to emulate French President Emmanuel Macron, who created his own political party to launch his 2017 bid for the Élysée Palace.
Even if a new centre-right political party were to emerge in the wake of a Poilievre victory on Sept. 10, it is not clear if Mr. Charest, at 64, would be the obvious person to lead it. Mr. Macron was not yet 40 when he founded La République en Marche. And Mr. Charest’s current leadership campaign, while solid and principled, has not exactly caught on with the broader Canadian electorate.
Still, if only to restore some sanity to federal politics, no one should discourage Mr. Charest from trying.
Who knows what will happen? But it was always true that the Reformers were always a fringe. They may choose to be so again.
Image: CTV News