Is The CPC Leadership A Ruse?
March 1st, 2020 | RR
After the previous leadership race turned out to be a debacle in both the long and short term, there shouldn't be any doubt that the Conservative brass will do anything to avoid a repeat. They've already made it more difficult for candidates to enter the race in an effort to keep the slate small, but that might not be where they stop. If a few unwanted candidates manage to make it big, we shouldn't expect it to go over well with those who want a solid win for Peter Mackay. It's likely that they'll do whatever is necessary to stop a dark horse from beating the chosen one.
The last leadership race divided the party down the middle, causing long term fractures that would permanently tarnish Andrew Scheer's chances in the general election. There were too many candidates, too many ideological divides and a final result that made the cracks wider. By fixing the next leadership for Peter Mackay, the party brass think they can avoid another disaster at the polls. However, they've chosen the wrong person if they want their party to remain competitive in ten years.
Mackay probably has a good chance of winning the next election, as would any Conservative candidate, minus a few crazy social conservatives like Richard Decarie. The problem with Peter Mackay is that he would win the federal election, but fail to keep the party a safe distance from the mushy middle. Over the years, his policies would probably mirror Brian Mulroney's and take the party in the same direction as his previous Progressive Conservative Party. I wouldn't be surprised if we ended up with new taxes and a bigger government under a Mackay majority.
Over the long term, the Conservative Party would decay under Peter Mackay's leadership. True blue conservatives would start drifting and finding alternatives—or they would disengage from politics and recede into the wilderness until something better comes along. Many conservatives have prepared for decades of left-wing leadership, high taxes, regressive social justice and endless identity politics. Many more voters are prepared to disengage and forget about politics. Most of us would rather not bother with politics if we're going to get more taxes, more rules and less freedom in return for our efforts. We won't be forced to choose between five different shades of the same colour.
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As far as I'm concerned, the party was headed in the right direction under Andrew Scheer. His only failure was in how he refused to defend his positions. His strategists were clowns and their attempts to water down his personality were an epic failure. In the end, we can only blame Andrew Scheer for hiring them and for letting a bunch of buffoons run his campaign.
In some ways, all the people who complained that Scheer wasn't conservative enough will become victims of their own, self-written poetic justice. You wanted a new leader, now you're stuck with Peter Mackay—the ultimate mushy progressive.
A conservative party that supports unmitigated abortions, drugs, gender politics, social justice and publicly funded journalism won't last long. Such a party might beat Trudeau, but it won't remain sustainable when incumbency, capitulation and centrist deal-making begin to define it. If Mackay stays in the PMO long enough, he'll eventually be viewed as corrupt, aloof, entitled and out-of-touch. That might even happen in his first term, just like it did with Justin Trudeau. When it does, don't expect the party to survive. Once the party loses, it will be impossible to gain back conservative support at the grassroots level.
As for rigging the leadership election in Mackay's favour, we shouldn't put it past the party's top engineers. There is a good chance that this leadership race is a total ruse, designed only to make us believe we have a choice. In the end, Erin O'Toole might be the only one left to challenge Mackay. In the end, O'Toole might drop out before election night and endorse Peter Mackay in an attempt to unify the party's red and blue wings. In the end, that might have been the plan all along. Peter Mackay did, after all, headline a lavish fundraiser for Erin O'Toole in 2017.
There may be other possibilities, too.
When you bet on horses in a race, a quinella is when you put your money on two horses to finish in first and second place. The order they finish doesn't matter, as long as they both finish in either first or second place together.
You can look at the Conservative Party setting up Erin O'Toole and Peter Mackay, with similar odds, as the top two finishers in the leadership race. If the plan isn't to have Erin O'Toole drop out and endorse Mackay, both candidates might be the chosen ones. Party engineers might have appointed O'Toole as the safe alternative to Peter Mackay, setting him up as the “true blue” alternative in an attempt to hedge their bets.
If you remember the 2017 leadership race, you'll remember Erin O'Toole being a soft, mushy, middle-of-the-road candidate. This time around, he seems to be setting himself up as a fierce culture warrior, using the kind of language he tried to avoid in 2017. Suddenly, magically, amazingly—Erin O'Toole has become an ass-kicker. Or, at least, he's trying to sell himself as one.
"Over the long term, the Conservative Party would decay under Peter Mackay's leadership."
Erin O'Toole wants to defund the CBC, end cancel culture, fight the radical left and fight like hell to keep the party away from the mushy middle. He even refuses to march in Toronto's pride parade until its organizers end their ban on uniformed police officers. The guy is like a dream come true—for anyone who forgot what kind of candidate he was in 2017.
Erin O'Toole could be the anointed one who was tasked with rounding up the blue vote, while Peter Mackay was chosen to round up the party's progressive wings. In the end, whoever has the best chance of winning will get the endorsement of the other—or they will both play it out to the very end, accept the results and then encourage unity by making the other guy deputy leader.
If this is, in fact, a plan being initiated by top party officials, it might be a good one. However, I don't trust either candidate to do my bidding as a voter. Erin O'Toole might be all talk and no action. He might sell himself out and memory-hole everything he campaigned on for the leadership. Only time will tell, but our faith in the party, the process and democracy should be waning.
No Rigging Or Planning
It might very well be possible that no one is rigging the CPC leadership or plotting a particular path for any one candidate. It could be true that Candice Bergen, John Baird, Pierre Poilievre, Michelle Rempel and Michael Chong all made legitimate, uninfluenced personal choices not to run. However, the party did change the rules and increase the entry fees for leadership—meaning that there is, in fact, some level of planning taking place.
That could be where the CPC brass stopped. They could have set new rules with the intention of letting the chips fall where they may. If so, the best man or woman really can win.
Leslyn Lewis is gaining steam, but the chances of her being accepted by a healthy majority of Conservative voters is still slim. She did an interview with The Rebel recently, which was met with mixed reviews. Some compared her to Trudeau with her platitudes and endless bloviating, while others praised her as tough and “exactly what Conservatives need”. To some, she was running off a script designed to appeal to conservatives, to others, she was genuine. That's hardly the kind of consensus needed to produce a winner.
Erin O'Toole seems to be the new consensus candidate in the leadership race. We shouldn't be surprised if he sails past Peter Mackay and wins on the first or second ballot. That is, if the race isn't a ruse.
I have my doubts about Erin O'Toole. His sudden turn toward being a tough guy is a sharp contrast to who he was in 2017. It either means he has learned from 2017 and the party's failed shot at forming government in 2019, or it means he is a part of some clever ruse. It could be true that the person we are seeing now is the real Erin O'Toole: a genuine, true blue conservative who was just trying to win a different game in 2017. With a slimmer slate of candidates in 2020, he might see a path to power by being himself.
Regardless of what the truth is, Erin O'Toole is the frontrunner among Conservative voters at the moment. The media won't tell you that. Their pollsters will keep pumping out ridiculous polls that sample one wing of the party and produce absurd margins of undecideds. They'll continue to churn out polls that show Peter Mackay as the party's best chance at winning—which they clearly know is not true. This is a part of their continued efforts to manipulate the results and install a flaky progressive that will bend to their every whim.
All we can do now is hope for the best. Be vigilant, don't be fooled and question everything you hear. If you have to, go with your gut. If you can, go with the facts. Pay close attention to this race, because it could make or break Justin Trudeau's future.
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