Canada’s Conservative Party needs to heed some sage wisdom my mom used to offer me, all too often as I procrastinated by whittling around the edges of a major decision: “It’s time to shit or get off the pot,” she’d say. God bless her soul. In the cast of Canada’s Conservatives, it’s time they stopped screwing around in the bush leagues and dragged their leadership race into the real world.
Democracy only works when the people have credible choices at the ballot box. Governments only stay true if they legitimately fear being ousted. So, Canada needs an electable opposition party if our government is going to succeed.
It’s time to cull the leadership herd, to vote the pretenders off the island. This leaves a short-list of four contenders.
If the Conservative Party of Canada wants to continue being that electable opposition party, it needs to choose a leader Canadians will elect as Prime Minister. This criterion, alone, eliminates most of the contenders:
Strike Steven Blaney, Michael Chong, Pierre Lemieux, Deepak Obhrai, Rick Peterson, Andrew Saxton and Brad Trost from the list of wannabes. None of them have the name recognition, track record or gravitas that would make them electable in 2019.
Kellie Leitch has said nothing racist or offensive in my books. But, she chose to elevate her profile by knowingly owning an issue that would mislead racists into supporting her. She flew too close to the sun, by half, and she cannot overcome the sunburn in time to win the leadership race or the election. Her new pronouncement that she would “de-fund” Canada’s “Sanctuary” cities is, in a word, stupid. She is unelectable. Off the list.
Chris Alexander and Erin O’Toole are both smart, skilled guys I’d love to see in the leadership role. But, I’m in rare company. Most Canadians don’t know much, if anything, about them. What they do know about Alexander, may not be flattering after he became a partisan attack dog in the last election. They’ve raise their profiles within conservative Canada, but this is not their time. That said, I’d be thrilled to be wrong about either of them.
That leaves us a short-list of contenders: Maxime Bernier, Kevin O’Leary, Lisa Raitt, Andrew Scheer.
Scheer, in all honesty, should be on the cut list with O’Toole and Alexander – perhaps, even on the list of wannabes. But, this virtually unknown Conservative leaves such a positive impression on the Conservatives I know that he may be able to pull some serious support as a popular second-choice for many party members.
Lisa Raitt is a serious contender, the only other woman in the race, and a former cabinet minister. But, I think she’d be a hard sell for Canadians against Trudeau. I’d take her off the list. But, it’s always nice to have a female option and she may surprise me.
So, as much as I may wish it wasn’t the case, the two real contenders in the CPC Leadership race are Kevin O’Leary and Maxime Bernier. Both are men with much to admire. Both leave me wanting more.
If O’Leary can sell 50,000 memberships and get them out to vote on the first ballot, he’ll win. But, that’s a gargantuan ask. And, the party he’d lead the day after the vote would hardly be a “conservative” party at all. Not, that I’d shed a tear over the change. Ideologies come and go and Canadians should be represented by parties that represent their interests and values – not a bunch of legacy parties that represent the values of an anachronistic few.
So, Canadian Conservatives… it’s time to cull the leadership herd. It’s time to vote 11 contenders off the island. The only candidates who should really move forward into the final weeks before the May 27 voting day are:
Maxime Bernier: The Libertarian who can make Conservatism sexy.
Kevin O’Leary: The smooth-talking salesman who will build a Wonderful Party out of the ashes of 20th Century Canadian Conservatism.
Andrew Scheer: The Who? Who may continue the Stephen Harperesque blandness of the status quo.
Lisa Raitt: The woman who’s far too accomplished to be a token, but who would otherwise probably not be on the list.