For the second time in the last three or four years, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is conducting a leadership contest.
The last time there were about 14 people seeking the position.
To me, it was a real dog’s breakfast.
The majority of these people were minor candidates just trying to create some personal profile.
In my mind, all they achieved was to create a lot of clutter that made it difficult for party members to decide who the serious contenders were.
Other than the serious policy issue differences between the candidates, there are two important considerations that the members need to focus on when voting for a candidate.
Can they win the leadership of the party and perhaps more important, if chosen as the party leader can they win the next election?
Is that leader a real take-charge-of-the-situation type of person?
The basic policies of the party are set by the party membership at party conventions, not by the leader.
However, having said that, the person’s personal position on social issues and progressive policy, as opposed to the more right-wing policy, is important.
So far this time, I think there are still too many people wanting to enter this contest that you just know haven’t a hope of winning.
This time the CPC set the bar really high to discourage people that really don’t have a chance of winning.
To fully qualify to be a candidate by the end of March you will be required to raise $300,000, obtain 3,000 signatures from at least 30 constituencies spread over seven provinces.
To achieve that will require name recognition and a professionally organized campaign.
In the end, I expect that there will only be three or four that will qualify.
The problem is that the candidates that don’t qualify will be taking airtime away from those that we should be listening too.
We need be aware that most of the media don’t like conservatives so the more disorganized this competition is, the better they like it and you can bet that they will contribute to as much noise and disorganization as they can.
As of the day I am writing this column, we have three declared candidates.
They are Peter McKay, Erin O’Toole and Marilyn Gladu.
In addition, there are three more that said they intend to run.
They are Jim Karahalios, Ontario MP Derek Sloan and Edmonton businessman Rick Peterson.
Manitoba MP Candice Bergan and New Brunswick MP John Williamson are considering whether or not to run.
So far that makes up to eight potential candidates that could be in the competition.
As far as I am concerned that is four too many.
As of now the only serious candidates that are running are Peter McKay and Erin O’Toole.
The rest of them while they may be very competent individuals simply do not have the name recognition and political profile to win this thing.
Andrew Scheer had been an MP for years and was the Speaker of the House for four years and still the party had difficulty getting the general public to recognize him as a household name, so these other guys would have an even steeper hill to climb.
Between what I consider to be the serious contenders, the real debate will be about their position on social issues and their view on Red Tory progressive issues.
Peter McKay was once the leader of the Conservative PC Party and is considered a Red Tory.
If he wants to win this race he will have to put some water in his wine like Harper did, who was on the other side of that political spectrum when he became leader.
Erin O’Toole seems to be in the middle of those positions but does not strike me as being as strong and forceful as McKay.
by Herman Schwenk