The Conservative Party of Canada has now been given another chance to figure out how to win the next federal election without Justin Trudeau’s help.
It was Trudeau’s actions that handed Andrew Scheer and the Conservative Party their increased seat count during the last federal election. And it was only the lopsided voting in Alberta and Saskatchewan that skewed the popular vote in favour of the Conservatives.
The Conservative Party, however, will only win a majority when they find a way to expand their appeal.
They lost the last election in those areas with the highest density of people, the Greater Toronto region.
The Conservatives lost both seats and the popular vote to the Liberals where they needed it most.
A rural vote counts for more than an urban vote in Canada because our electoral boundaries have to account for geographic size.
But in the big scheme of things, our elections are based on one vote per person and that means high concentrations of populations do matter to every political party that wants to form government.
The Conservative Party of Canada upon choosing a new leader needs to appreciate that except for southern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan and the interior of B.C, we’re not American republicans—the majority of Canadians are progressive conservatives or liberals.
The Conservative Party will win again when it sends back all their republican strategists, policy wonks and political operatives and start rebuilding a party that embraces values that appeal to the majority of Canadians.
Between the two finalists in the last Conservative leadership race, Bernier and Scheer, they represented American republican values to a tee.
However, those policies offend many Canadians who do not have an American heritage as we do in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
During the last election, it didn’t help that Conservative Premiers, Kenney and Ford, were both fast and furiously pushing republican agendas in their respective provinces, or that Scheer couldn’t even walk in a gay parade.
That scared enough Canadians, who despise American politics and fear state-controlled morality, to vote Liberal again.
When the Throne Speech was read a few weeks back, Scheer’s comments were focused on the lack of attention given to the AlSask’s oil agenda.
When Scheer resigned, he talked about his love for the Conservative Party, his commitment to the Conservative Party, his long association with the Conservative Party, his thanks for having the opportunity to lead the Conservative Party, never once mentioning his privilege to serve Canadians as Speaker of the House and leader of the Official Opposition, nor any deep love for Canada.
Harper’s decisions to take out ‘progressive’ and to centre conservatism in Calgary has, as Scheer so clearly showed in his recent comments, caused the party to turn too much of its focus on one industry and one region representing only five to six million people.
The rest of the country notices.
To be successful, the next leader of the Conservative Party must put ‘progressive’ back into party policies, come from a region of Canada that is more diverse in population, values and industries, and get serious about implementing real solutions to greenhouse gas emissions.
Canadians want and deserve an option other than Liberals. Changing governments is the most effective guard against corruption and cronyism amongst elected officials, big industry and big money. And in practical terms, there are many voters who believe in conservative economic policies that want to vote Conservative again.
Therein lies the challenge for the Conservative membership when choosing their next leader.
To win support in concentrated population areas, that person can’t be a Bernier, Scheer, Ford or Kenney clone, each of whom represents a narrow, uncompromising ideology that just doesn’t translate into enough votes to win federal majorities.