Conservatives Don't Have To Keep Losing 

November 1st, 2015 | R. Rados 

tories losing

Canadian conservatives have always relied on their old, obstinate tactics and strategies. It's rare to see conservative parties of any kind adopt new, bolder ideas. Even their young, fresh strategists are plucked out of the old Manning school of thought. In hindsight, this old mindset hasn't worked for conservatives since the end of the Mulroney era. If you think the Harper era proves that I'm wrong, you might want to keep reading.

It took Harper three tries to win one majority government against a scandal plagued Liberal government. It took Justin Trudeau one try to end Harper's Conservative majority with a majority of his own. Some conservatives will say a win is a win, no matter how it happens or how long it takes. Unfortunately, they're wrong.

Conservatives of all stripes have been losing across Canada for over a decade while liberal and anti-conservative parties have been winning. The Ontario PCs couldn't defeat a scandal plagued Liberal government. No one can remember the last time conservatives were in charge of BC, Manitoba or most of the Atlantic provinces. Alberta's Wildrose couldn't defeat a scandal plagued, half century old Progressive government. That party couldn't even win one by-election during the PC's darkest days. A far left band of Chavez-obsessed socialists eventually had to get the job done.

The small C and big C conservatives have been winning some small battles but losing the war. Liberals and left-wing parties have been dominating the cultural war since Brian Mulroney left office. If conservatives actually want to make Canada's government smaller, more efficient and less intrusive, it'll take longer than four years. If conservatives want the same staying power as liberals, they'll need to fundamentally transform their message and their approach. There's no doubt that mainstream media has made if difficult for conservatives on the cultural front, but media bias isn't entirely unavoidable. It can be stopped with the right message, the right approach and the right leader.

To carve out a long lasting, pro-conservative message that will stand the test of time, there are a few things conservatives will need to do. They won't like all of them, but conservatism won't last in Canada if conservative parties continue winning minor battles and calling them successes. Conservatives need to start winning the war.


First, Ditch The Old Cronies


Whoever ran Stephen Harper's campaign should be fired. Plain and simple, cut and dry. The person or people that gave Conservatives campaign advice and guided their strategies should be unemployed. The same applies to the Ontario PCs and Alberta's Wildrose. The fact that Harper needed three tries to defeat a corrupt Liberal government and that the Wildrose has never been able to topple a corrupt PC regime should be a clear indication that conservatives are politicking wrong.

It's not surprising to most anti-conservatives to hear that conservatives are afraid to let go of their old, traditional messaging and strategies. They are, after all, conservatives. Conservatives need to be less conservative when it comes to strategy. The left has recruited all the fresh new ideas and talent. That's why the NDP won a majority in Alberta and why Justin Trudeau won a majority nationally.

Conservatives need to learn how to let go of some things and some people. Whoever told Tim Hudak to tell Ontario voters that he would fire 100,000 public sector workers should be fired. Whoever told Danielle Smith to run a careful, lacklustre campaign during four 2014 by-elections in Alberta and adopt “Send The PCs A Message” as a slogan should be fired. Whoever told Brian Jean to relentlessly repeat the phrase “we won't raise your taxes” and make it the Wildrose's only coherent message should be fired. Whoever told Harper to mention a possible public ban on niqabs and to use corny, gameshow antics during his final rallies should be fired. These people should have the doors slammed in their faces and told never to return. Chances are – given the unfortunate conservative mentality in Canada – most of them probably still have their jobs. As long as conservatives keep listening to them, they won't be winning the war anytime soon.


Move On And Embrace Gay Marriage


The gay marriage issue reared its ugly head during this campaign when a Conservative candidate had to resign over negative comments about homosexuality. On social media, people tried to rehash Stephen Harper's 2006 stance on traditional marriage. Despite having openly gay conservatives in their ranks, the Conservative Party still has a history that needs to be scrubbed and forgotten. Most gays and lesbians still have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to the Conservative Party. This needs to change.

Gay marriage is here to stay. The old Reform base doesn't like to hear that, but it's true. It's time not only to deal with it, but to accept it. When conservatives say marriage is between a man and a woman, nobody buys it. Even some old social conservatives have learned to accept gay marriage. This means that it's still possible for Conservatives to embrace the issue and retain their base.

The habit of most conservative candidates is to stay silent on gay marriage to avoid offending their party's base. This sends the same message to media and voters as being against it. Conservatives need to start openly embracing gay marriage when they're asked about it.


Fight Political Correctness And Bias With Positivity


The fact is that everyone is starting to despise political correctness. People are also becoming more aware of political and ideological biases in news and media. The only problem with Canadian conservatives is that they get so angry about it. I understand that it's infuriating and downright grotesque at times, but taking an old angry man approach doesn't enlighten enough people. Banning biased reporters from pressers sends the wrong message and lashing out makes conservatives look stereotypically crazy.

It's time for conservatives to tackle political correctness and bias with grace and humour. Yes, most of Canada's journalists are lying pieces of shit, but we can tell them what they are in more clever and graceful ways.

Conservatives are used to being the butt of jokes in media and being incorporated into negative internet memes. Leftists and anti-conservatives aren't as used to it, which is why their heads explode when one of their own becomes a target. When leftist heads explode, conservatives laugh. When conservative heads explode over political correctness and bias, liberals laugh. Imagine a world where conservatives laughed at all of it, without ever exploding.

Let's leave outbursts and conniptions to the anti-conservatives. It's possible to point out media bias while shrugging, laughing and making it look like the big joke that it is. It's time to crack jokes about political correctness and our sensitive ban everything culture. This is something Brad Wall has been good at.


Quit Trying To Kill The CBC


Before you call me an idiot and stop reading, give this idea a chance. I know most conservatives hate the CBC. They have every reason to, but what if the CBC warmed up to conservative ideas and treated conservatives fairly? I bet conservatives would hate it less.

Getting the CBC to warm up to conservatives isn't done by slowly and painfully trimming away its budget. If Harper wanted to privatize or abolish the CBC, he should have done it more quickly and all at once. By slowly shrinking the CBC's budget and leaving the threat of demise looming over the CBC's head, Harper only made the network more eager to destroy him in order to save its own life.

With a more positive approach to touchy social issues and a stable promise of continued funding, conservatives can win the CBC over. By 2023, if Trudeau is still in charge, there will be more than enough dirt on his government for the CBC to cover and expose. They might not be so eager to expose his failures if they know the alternative means budget cuts and possible privatization.

If the Conservative Party and its supporters drop the anti-CBC rhetoric and promise to embrace the CBC as a necessary cultural institution, things will change for the better. The CBC could be a part of the cultural shift conservatives need.

Change The Climate Change Debate


Everyone wants clean air, a healthy environment and less destruction. That's exactly what the environmental debate should be about. Most rational voters know a carbon tax won't magically stop climate change. Carbon taxes will make everything more expensive. To be against carbon taxes doesn't make you a climate change denier. Even if you are a denier of climate change science, it doesn't matter. If you can steer the conversation toward environmental stewardship and away from climate change, you can make the case that conservatives are as good for the environment as anyone else.

Forget that the science behind man-made climate change is shoddy and more theory than fact. Conservatives need to convince voters that their goals are the same as the other parties, but without the useless taxes and regressive wealth redistribution schemes. There are ways to reduce the emissions that turn Toronto's sky brown on hot summer days. There are countless ways to incentivize green energy research and production without creating new taxes. Conservatives need to shake off the hyper, pro-oil legacy of Stephen Harper and move toward green energy.

Non-renewable resources eventually run out. Any society that finds a sustainable, renewable and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels is better off, regardless of climate change. That doesn't mean we shut down oil production or demonize an entire industry, it means we just have to accept that green energy is better for long term sustainability, economic stability, social stability and environmental stability. Not having to worry about dirty air, oil prices and future resource wars should be on everyone's agenda. Conservatives can commit to getting there eventually, without radically trying to destroy Canada's oil industry like the left.

Green energy can go beyond wind farms and solar plants. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Tesla are on the verge of breakthroughs in fusion. Never having to refuel our cars or replace our batteries is not only convenient, but probably less expensive. Moving away from fossil fuels is better for everyone, including conservatives.

The benefits of green sustainability should have nothing to do with climate change. The best way to bridge the gap between climate change believers and deniers is to conclude that all of us want clean air and a healthy planet. Once we've all reached the same goal of having clean air and a healthy planet, climate change won't matter anymore. 


Keep The Base


These few minor changes in perspective can be accomplished while keeping the five and a half million Conservative votes that Harper has sustained since 2011. The key for most Conservatives is to not be afraid of the societal winds that will inevitably continue to change our country. Making these changes doesn't mean pandering to social justice warriors or caving in to their demands. It means adapting to the times while still maintaining core fiscal conservative values and reasonable social values that emphasize individual freedom.