Conservatives need a new leader, but not for the reason you may think
Disclosure: Yianni Macris formerly served as Parliamentary Assistant to CPC MP Ted Falk. He currently studies public relations.
I’ve kept rather too quiet with respect to my opinion on the election results, especially with how it turned out for the Conservative Party. Silent I can no longer be. Yes, the Conservatives won the popular vote. But I’d like to clear the air: winning the popular vote is virtually irrelevant; our electoral system is not designed like that.
Shortly after Andrew Scheer’s accidental Conservative leadership victory, I was having beers with some dejected party faithful, who bemoaned the outcome and their fraught involvement with Dragon’s Den investment mogul Kevin O’Leary’s abandoned campaign.
My drinking compadres could best be described as the millennial generation of hardcore Conservative supporters. And by hardcore, I mean they volunteer for campaigns–municipal, provincial or federal, wherever a hopeful they like may be–engaging in the thankless campaign drudgery of door-knocking and pamphleting, sometimes for days on end.
The more experienced among them even contribute to strategy, and for their efforts are often rewarded with work with victorious MPs. Others in these tight-knit circles that exist among all parties, also end up in the bureaucracy or at NGOs in the Ottawa beltway’s revolving door of organized politics, PR and public service gigs.
All of us had seen U.S. President Donald Trump’s election victory the previous November, and argued how Mr. Wonderful’s similar bombast might have played in his favour. On that subject, we could agree that O’Leary’s no-nonsense, direct manner with the media was his strongest quality.
Take for example the answer to question about his French speaking ability, early on in Conservative leadership campaign: “I speak the language of jobs”, was peak O’Leary and a beautiful response worth pounding away on. Jobs. Economy. Jobs. Economy.
But in the end, O’Leary loathed the grind of on-the-ground politicking and despite a decent chance of victory, he pulled the plug and threw his chips in with a loser.
Insofar as political stratagem, it’s the kind of choice that separates an O’Leary from a Trump. Trump would never leave this sort of thing to chance and plays to win, while Mr. Wonderful gambled that a third of his supporters would vault Maxime Bernier to a first-ballot victory.
But in the field of 12 remaining candidates that included now-viable successors to Scheer–Erin O’Toole and Lisa Raitt–thirteen rounds later, Scheer squeaked out the win and the rest was history.
Not withstanding searing bouts of rhetoric from stalwart front benchers like Pierre Poilievre or Michelle Rempel, federal Conservatives remained stuck behind a simpatico leadership approach that stretched through the last election.
Even as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s antics, scandals and world-stage gaffes piled up, including Time Magazine revelations of avid blackface enthusiasm through our PM’s 20s–during an increasingly bitter election, no less–Scheer could never quite convert that to his advantage.
And Scheer’s leadership strategy never really diverged from this idea he could win by being the regular Joe or Jane, was easy to be around and in other words, was not the millionaire playboy that the country’s choice for PM in 2015 was turning out to be.
This failed strategy was ultimately compounded by Scheer’s inability to square his personal religious views in a manner that the wider public could trust enough, on incredibly polarizing issues of abortion or gay, lesbian and trans rights.
By the time Scheer got around to showing any gumption on this subject–the memorable “is being gay a sin” exchange–he was scrumming with reporters after surviving a losing election post-mortem revolt at the party’s national caucus.
This time around, Conservatives need to find winner. It seems like a no-brainer but this winner needs to be someone who can prevail in more than a leadership race or internal review.
This leader has to be the type of person where winning courses through their veins and maybe even be an outsider with more zest for the glad-handing of politics’ rubber chicken circuit than Mr. Wonderful had.
TRIGGER WARNING: During his Coach’s Corner prime, Don Cherry would have brought the perfect sort of everyman, energy required for the job–a Ralph Klein on blades – if only the Conservative leadership came with sidekick; Ron Maclean playing Grapes’ foil, of course.
Back in the post “you people” matrix, outsiders like Alberta energy tycoon Brett Wilson–another Dragon’s Den alumnus–as well as behavioural psychologist Jordan Peterson, have been bandied around on social media as great replacements.
If the yardstick be real-world experience, paired with an ability to communicate effectively with the wider public, either are credible options especially given that Trudeau’s relative inexperience outside of politics was often compared to Scheer’s own career political trajectory, outside of briefly flogging insurance.
Back on the inside, former Conservative MPs who earned their stripes in previous Stephen Harper governments–former cabinet ministers Peter MacKay and Rona Ambrose–remain potential and formidable contenders if they choose to throw in their hats.
While MacKay has not ruled out the possibility, Ambrose has indicated she’s not interested. Nevertheless these are early days with time to convince Ambrose she’s the perfect counterpoint to Trudeau.
Unlike MacKay’s Laurentien elite provenance, Ambrose’s Albertan roots would provide the West strong representation in Parliament and “because it’s 2015”, Conservatives could walk Trudeau’s often empty, gender talk.
What MacKay has going for him is a deeper cabinet resume, having served as attorney general, foreign affairs and national defence minister in former Harper cabinets. In terms of pure political calculations, the West is already solidly blue while MacKay’s corner of the country could use his ability to attract Maritimes voters back into the Conservative fold.
At the moment, all comers would be considered in the context of taking on a Trudeau-led Liberal Party in the next federal election. If Trudeau’s insatiable appetite for attention, or another SNC-Lavalin level scandal emerges from which there is no reasonable escape and the caucus ousts their golden boy, all bets are off.
Former military air force navigator and one of Harper’s ministers of veteran affairs Erin O’Toole is the first to jump in, announcing he’ll be running in the CPC leadership race to friends at a party Thursday night.
The Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada, Dustin Van Vugt, has been removed from his position according to two sources within the party that spoke to The Post Millennial after allegations were brought forward this week that Andrew Scheer had used party funds to subsidize the cost of private school for his children.
Van Vugt as executive director publically commented after the release of the allegations that he had personally made the offer to cover costs of moving, including differential pricing in schooling.
Statement from the Conservative Party. Party President says he personally made the offer to Scheer to cover costs of moving his family from Regina to Ottawa and that it included costs associated with schooling. pic.twitter.com/dMXmk6C9FE— Mercedes Stephenson (@MercedesGlobal) December 12, 2019
While some in the party argued that the fees were not important, The Post Millennial reported that private school perks were an internal matter forcing Scheer’s resignation before media leak.
Global News soon after reported that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in fact “very angry” about Scheer’s use of party funds for children’s private schooling.
Global News can report that former Prime Minister Stephen Harper is “very angry” Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was using party funds to help pay for his children’s private school tuition. Source says Harper had no idea the funds were being used in that way #cdnpoli #CPC— Mercedes Stephenson (@MercedesGlobal) December 13, 2019
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Jasmine Pickel is an entrepreneur and the Interim Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Our politicians are addicted to spending. Even though they speak poetically about their good intentions and virtue signal whilst cheque-signing on our behalf, much of that spending is wasteful and sinks us further into debt.
Here are five phrases that usually indicate that a politician is about to waste your money.
1) Politicians will say they’re “investing”
When politicians say they’re investing government money, what they really mean is that they’re spending taxpayer dollars. Unfortunately, politicians at all levels of government in this country have a poor track record in this regard.
In Newfoundland, the government lost $260,000 when it tried to operate a Tim Hortons. Likewise, the Ontario government lost $42 million trying to sell marijuana.
Given that governments can’t make money selling double-doubles or weed brownies, they should let taxpayers keep more of their own money to invest it themselves.
2) “It’s not a spending problem–it’s a revenue problem!”
Imagine saying that in the context of your own life – that it’s not your fault you spent so much, it’s just that your job doesn’t pay what you’d like to spend. Unfortunately, our politicians just keep adding to our credit card bill.
A recent Ontario government report shows why it is in fact a spending problem. It found that Ontario would have spent $330 billion less in the 15-year period the former Liberal government was in power if it had simply kept spending in line with population growth.
Instead, spending increased in real terms by $2,200 per person, and now Ontario’s debt has surpassed $350 billion, making the province the largest subnational debtor on the planet.
Politicians love painting deficits as a revenue problem so they can raise taxes. Don’t fall for it. Tell politicians to manage their own budgets instead of taking more out of yours.
3) Politicians say they’re spending to “help the middle class”
While big government apologists like to pretend all of our tax dollars go toward vital services such as health care and education, the reality is that politicians will often take tax money from hard working Canadians to hand it over to large, profitable corporations.
Take for example the $12 million the Trudeau government gave to Loblaws to buy more energy efficient fridges (even though the company posted net earnings exceeding $800 million that fiscal year). That’s nothing in comparison to the $4 billion of taxpayer money that has been given to Bombardier though, a company owned by one of Canada’s wealthiest families worth close to $3 billion.
Taxes are the single largest expense for most Canadians, taking up approximately 45 percent of the average Canadian’s annual household income. If politicians really wanted to help the middle class, they’d stop giving corporate welfare handouts and instead lower our taxes.
4) Politicians justify their overspending by saying they’re on “a responsible path to budgetary balance”
Translation: “We’re going to keep adding to the debt for the next few years at least.” There’s simply nothing responsible about overspending, especially in good economic times.
In fact, it’s very irresponsible for politicians to ignore the opportunity costs of running up large debts. For example, this year Ontario will spend about $13 billion on interest payments. That’s more money than it will spend on colleges and universities put together!
Politicians should stop making excuses as to why they can’t balance budgets, and they should start paying down the debt.
5) Politicians say “we can keep spending as long as the debt-to-GDP ratio stays in check”
Although this is a favourite excuse used by our current prime minister, the reality is that this economic ratio isn’t reliable. For example, if Canada were to encounter tough economic times and our debt were to increase more sharply than planned, the ratio would be thrown out of whack. All of a sudden, we’d be in a position where we’d be saying “wow, we really need to pay down debt, but now we’re not in a financial position to do so.”
Conversely, even if our GDP were to increase sharply thereby lowering the ratio relative to our G7 counterparts, it doesn’t necessarily follow that more spending is justifiable or a good idea.
Canadians live within their means. It’s time our politicians followed suit.
Andrew Scheer’s departure as Conservative Party leader provides a strong opportunity for the party to get a more charismatic leader who can defeat Justin Trudeau.
But it also is a moment of serious risk.
The Conservative Party under Andrew Scheer has taken a much stronger approach towards Communist China than has been seen by Canada’s political establishment in a long time.
The Harper government had started with a tougher approach but then began getting closer to China under relentless pressure from the Liberals and the corporate establishment.
With China becoming more aggressive and mistreating Canada in recent years, the Scheer Conservatives have been one of the few parties with the stones to actually call out China’s actions and propose real ideas to push back, such as banning Huawei, pulling Canada’s money from the Asian Infrastructure Bank, and pursuing tariffs on the mercantilist empire.
The risk now is that with Scheer departing, the corporate and political elites will take this opportunity to do China’s bidding and push to install a leader who is far weaker on China.
While the Conservative base is the strongest bastion of strong Canadian nationalism and strength against China, there are some who would seek to turn the party into an elitist organization that is out-of-touch with real Canadians.
That’s exactly what the Liberals have already become when it comes to China, with their party endlessly seeking a “free trade” deal, showing pathetic cowardice on China’s actions, and repeatedly ignoring Canadian public opinion (which has turned decisively against China).
If the Conservatives go that same direction it will be a huge loss for our country and will put our nation at serious risk of becoming a political and economic colony of the Communist State.
That’s why it’s essential for the Conservatives to continue Andrew Scheer’s strong approach against China, and why all of those who end up running for the Conservative leadership must be relentlessly pressured to maintain a similar approach.
There are good signs so far, with many Conservative MPs and Senators, including Leo Housakos and Erin O’Toole slamming the Liberals’ weakness on China and fighting for Canada to finally show some courage. That’s what needs to inspire the party going forward, and any effort by the elites to weaken the Conservatives’ resistance to China must be opposed.
Canada already has one political party that is selling us out to the communist state. We can’t afford another.