The Conservative party today faces what the Democratic party experienced towards the end of Obama’s tenure, an excited base that sadly does not go far enough to reach victory.
During the second quarter of this year, the Conservatives raised over $6 million, the Liberals $3,023,955, and The New Democratic Party raised roughly $1.5 million. Looking at those numbers you would most likely assume that the Conservative party would be dominating the polls, yet all recent results show a drastically different image.
The Conservatives remain dead set within the 29-31 % range that roughly reflects their base, the NDP remains crippled below 20%, and the Liberals remain in the majority position they have been since Trudeau’s election victory. This stark contrast continues even as Prime Minister Trudeau, in the eyes of most Conservatives, experiences “scandal after scandal” while in government.
From their scandalous and excessive $10 million payouts to Omar Khadr to the naming of a Governor General who potentially killed a motorist, none of these scandals has made them lose the support of their coalition.
The Conservative base was excited and motivated to donate, but the average voter simply did not change their opinion. As arguments rage on issues such as Khadr, or social issues considered handled, most voters stress over the economy, their safety, or their healthcare. In many ways showing that the current Conservative message remains the same. In juxtaposition, the current differences between the Conservative base, while still being excited to donate and fundraise, have further united the Liberal voting bloc in Canada. Now I do not blame this on every Conservative party policy, I rather blame it on the messaging and an almost laziness that has emerged within many Conservative circles. It almost seems like Conservatives understand that you can’t win an election playing defence, but they choose the wrong plays consistently.
For example, a potentially brilliant idea suggested by MP Kellie Leitch during the Conservative leadership race focused on the idea of “Canadian Values”.
You can view a video from her campaign below
Many Canadians in the province of Ontario find a distinctly Canadian identity lacking, and the idea of pushing a uniquely Canadian set of principles forward could be something that many of those voters could be attracted to. Kellie Leitch being a lifelong Ontario political veteran understands that and in fact, as a second generation Canadian I find myself contributing many of my proudest memories to the kindness of “Canadian Values”.
Yet the Leitch campaign’s tactics felt like they simply found the easiest and perhaps most opportunistic version of this message and focused on dispensing that to voters. While the tactic was not completely fruitless as it provided her with over 30,000 campaign supporters, this raw opportunism did rapidly form a potentially great idea into something that alienated members of her own party and her own riding, rather than creating a policy that could reach past party lines.
In reality, due to Canada’s diversity, the only Canadian values that can unite are those that revolve around a tradition of representative democracy and freedom, but this does not take away the importance of the social conservatives within the blue tent.
In order to win the Conservative brand will have to find a way to take the ideas that excite social conservatives and use them to excite Canadians as a whole. The party cannot win by forever silencing half of its members, and in fact, Social Conservatives have begun to slowly vent their frustrations and leave the Ontario Conservatives precisely due to the constant muzzling of their beliefs at the precise time where they Conservatives could have a crushing victory on their hands. Therefore I am left to argue that in order to win, the Conservatives could use a strictly libertarian understanding of Canadian values to both energize their Social Conservative wing, and receive the support of independent voters across all voting blocs.
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