The return of Conservatives

Written by Brenda Schimke

Every political leader in Canada has made good and bad decisions while in office, but few political leaders know when to quit. 

Former premier, Peter Lougheed, and Don Iveson, the current mayor of Edmonton, are two exceptions. Lougheed left and Iveson is leaving after three overwhelming electoral wins. One reformed a province into an economic giant and one reinvigorated a city battered and bruised. 

Their popularity held firm, even when tough decisions were required, simply because they always reflected genuine humility, honesty and respect for all their citizens.

I’m convinced the Conservative Party leader, Erin O’Toole, could be such a prime minister. Never more so than this past week when he took the absolute necessary step to eject MP Derek Sloan from the Conservative caucus. 

Sloan’s prejudices against everyone who is not in his own image, white and religious, has been on full display for years.

O’Toole also made a wise decision to stop Conservatives doing interviews on Rebel Media, Canada’s Fox News equivalent, a ‘news’ outlet that wallows in half truths and hate mongering. 

He will need to be careful through the nomination process to weed out any Sloan clones and change his slogan away from “Take Back Canada” which is too closely identified with Trump speak.

The insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was an opening for O’Toole and the Conservative Party to cut the umbilical cord between Canada’s Conservatives and the Republican Party—a tight relationship fostered by Stephen Harper. 

Many Canadians, including myself, have been waiting for this moment. Allowing a radical base to function untethered in a political party, either on the left or right, serves no one in the long term.

Prime Minister Trudeau has done some good work on behalf of Canadians. Purchasing the TransMountain pipeline expansion and investing $1.8 million to reclaim abandoned oil wells are the few positives in the dismal world of Alberta’s oil and gas industry.

Trudeau’s handling of the pandemic has been overall excellent under very difficult situations. Even his handling of the former wingnut in Washington was impressive.

So, it’s not like he’s done a horrible job, but he needs to go. 

Most politicians, Trudeau included, deserve only two terms because they lack humility. We saw it with the ‘We’ fiasco. Thanks to the investigative reporting of the Globe & Mail, no money ever got to the Kielburger brothers and it exposed them for who they were—charitable fronts to further their privilege and fame.

But the circumstances around Governor General (GG) Julie Payette’s appointment is unforgivable. Former Prime Minister Harper had put in place a vetting team to ensure that his choice for GG fit the job. 

His process picked David Johnson, the finest GG in my memory. His actions and his words in books written, ‘Trust – Twenty Ways to Build a Better Country’ and ‘The Idea of Canada’, oozed with humility and trustworthiness.

In contrast, Trudeau turfed the vetting team and hand-picked Payette. He did it because she was a scientist and a woman. Many Canadians are grateful for Trudeau’s decisions to appoint women and minorities to his cabinet, but they are capable and competent. 

Payette was a capable astronaut but had none of the soft skills or humility necessary to be a Governor-General.

Both ‘We’ and Piquette weren’t criminal actions, but they most certainly were character issues. 

More than ever, the character of our political leaders has become imperative for civil society to flourish.

Erin O’Toole’s actions to move the party towards the middle, stop hateful rhetoric against others, and show respect to all Canadians is a winning formula that will take Trudeau down.

 

Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.