Erin O'Toole: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

August 23rd, 2020 | JH

really thought Peter MacKay was going to be anointed by the CPC brass. It looks like democracy is still functioning inside the party apparatus. Congratulations Erin O’Toole! You’ve got your hands full.

Here’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of an Erin O’Toole CPC…

The Good

Poletical first talked to Erin O’Toole back during the last leadership race. He’s a personable guy with lots of (possibly too many) good ideas. As the face of the party, Erin checks off all the boxes. He’s got: private sector experience, a military background, lots of caucus support, an Ontario base, he speaks French and he provides Scheer-style “Harper with a smile” packaging minus the now deal-breaking social conservatism (which is just code for: he’s cool with gays and abortion).

Election prospects under O’Toole are exceptionally good, given the circumstances. He should be able to scoop up a few dozen Ontario seats, and Western Canada will be thoroughly anti-Liberal by the time the next election rolls around to ensure a chance of at least a minority win.

O’Toole is switched on enough to recognize the modern problems of Canada and ambitious enough to attempt to deal with them. He should run a relatively clean, Canada-first, managerial government. We’re probably looking at getting something akin to a Christy Clark leadership or a Paul Martin government. Compared to the woke, insane nightmare currently in office, this is as conservative as we can hope for.

The Bad

O’Toole is a bit of a chameleon. He’s running as a true blue Tory this time around, whereas last time he was more of a centrist. It’s a calculation, which is fine, but these sorts of calculations can leave the base wondering what’s happening and feeling like fools faster than you can say “Patrick Brown”. O’Toole is likely to veer left now that he has comfortably grabbed the brass ring.

Therein lies the over-arching problem for the CPC. They follow the Liberal party like a shadow. As the Liberals slowly catch up to the NDP, the Conservatives slowly catch up to the Liberals. 

Hoping for a Paul Martin-type government is simply the best we can expect from the Conservative Party at this point. God help us when we eventually arrive at a point in the future where conservatives wistfully hope for a government that was as good as the Trudeau Liberals are today.

Western conservatives are waking up to the realization that the CPC is a broken vessel. It held promise once, but Harper proved that reform is impossible. The membership numbers speak for themselves. In the last leadership race, there were 260,000 CPC members. Three years later there are 280,000 CPC members. Less than 1% of Canadians wanted to participate in this leadership contest. (How many of these are block buys and one-year non-renewed cards?)

O’Toole will have to inspire relevancy in the West and that’s not going to be easy with a Wexit on the rise. More and more people don’t want the West to get in…they want to get the West out. If O’Toole can address equalization, oil & gas concerns and fair representation by the West in the East, then he will basically be a magician.

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The CPC isn’t positioned very well for the long-term either. Mass immigration from non-Western countries has people voting along ethnic lines. Multiculturalism plus democracy equals tribalism, and conservative principles aren’t going to be sell-able much longer. As we veer towards late-stage democracy, it will be a scramble for self-interest… fire sale democracy. We’re already at the stage where the federal government is just handing out free money to everyone and and they love it.

Where’s “Conservatism” in all this?

The Ugly

No matter who governs Canada, our economic situation is going to dominate the agenda for the next ten years. We’re back to where we were in the early 90’s and we’ll likely be following the same path as then. The 20’s will be like the 90’s. In a situation like that it will be bankers and bond holders calling the shots (sorry Paul Martin, but you just followed orders). All this money printing and housing bubbles and high unemployment and Covid-19… it’s a mess. O’Toole will be walking into a mess.

This is the classic conservative conundrum. Much like Brian Mulroney spending nine years trying to deal with the previous Trudeau’s debt, O’Toole will simply be struggling to deal with this five-year madness that voters have thrust upon us. As a result, the "heartless conservative" meme will likely come back in full force.  

If O’Toole doesn’t govern with some radical new ideas, the CPC will just pick up where the PC Party of 2003 left off. It will wither and die. It’s going to be hard to contend with a Liberal Party that is literally giving people free money and our democratic institutions may have already passed the point of no return on the Tytler-cycle as a result. This puts O’Toole in a Catch-22 position. If he wins, he must deal with the thankless mess of Canada. If he loses, the thankless mess of Canada will spiral down the Liberal toilet forever.

© 2020 Poletical