FEBRUARY 21, 2022 – Here we go again, yet another Conservative leadership race. Maybe we will get it right this time.
Now that the drama of the last three weeks appears to be over, Conservatives can renew their favourite pastime- electing leaders.
We are all waiting for the rules to be announced. For those who have not been inside a leadership race before- the length of the campaign is key.
A short campaign would definitely favour an elected MP and limit the ability of an outsider to raise funds, sign up members and raise their public profile for voting members. In this case that would help Pierre Poilievre who announced he was running shortly after the coup against O’Toole was over. It would also favour Leslyn Lewis although she has not announced she is running, as well as other MPs who might be considering a run.
Members and the public at large will also learn if any one candidate has significant control of the party apparatus. When forcing leaders out, you usually make sure that headquarters, MPs and party operatives are on board before you dump your leader.
With the Conservatives it is always about their base- protecting it, listening to it etc. and rarely expanding their base to attract more mainstream voters, many of whom reside in vote rich cities in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Harper and Mulroney were able to do that and won government.
The Liberals are a tough opponent, often underestimated by Conservatives. They remind me of the giant blob of the old movies. It changes shape and sucks up whatever policies they think will get them elected, knowing full well it is but a temporary position that is only useful until they gain or keep power in an election.
Can Conservative leadership candidates come up with innovative policies that appeal to their existing base and broaden their base? That remains to be seen.
If it is like the last couple of leadership campaigns, for many Conservative Party members it will be the candidate that you dislike the least who will get your vote.
Keith is a former political staffer with over 50 years of active involvement in Canadian politics. He is a former Deputy Chief of Staff to a Prime Minister for Issues Management and he was a senior political advisor involved with political research, Question Period, political attack teams and election war rooms for over 20 years. A well-known political pundit, Keith has appeared many times on Canadian political panels.