Recently I heard a very articulate and intelligent-sounding man from Rocky Mountain House on an Alberta radio talk show. He was befuddled as to how the rest of the country couldn’t see through Trudeau when it was so clear and obvious to Albertans.
The radio host politely suggested that many Canadians might also find it strange that decade after decade, Albertans vote for just one political party.
I think if Rona Ambrose was today’s Conservative leader, she could easily beat Justin Trudeau. Yet she isn’t the leader and that signals the true failure of the Conservative Party. Why not her and why Erin O’Toole? Why during the last two leadership races, so few Conservative heavyweights put their names forward?
I would argue it’s because the Conservative party doesn’t represent a united front. It has never truly merged into one party since the Progressive Conservatives were taken over by the western reform movement.
Ambrose and O’Toole are progressive conservatives, Harper and Scheer were reform men. And except for economics, the two sides are very different in most other policy areas.
Stephen Harper’s ideological warfare against immigrants and Muslims hasn’t been forgotten and Jason Kenney’s current shenanigans don’t help O’Toole at all.
The Canadian public already witnessed the reform faction of the party humiliate their leader, Erin O’Toole. When O’Toole proposed a credible climate change plan, the majority of party attendees at a policy conference, just weeks later, defeated a motion to add to their policy documents that ‘climate change is real’ and the party ‘is willing to act’.
Even the powerful American Petroleum Institute and Republican politicians in the U.S. have stopped outright denying climate change and have switched their messaging to ‘fossil fuels are part of the solution to climate change’.
Premier Kenney is the federal Conservative party’s biggest nightmare as he single-handedly continues to tarnish the image of conservatism across the country. His actions since elected, and specifically during the pandemic, have been jaw dropping, not only for many Albertans, but for the rest of Canada and internationally.
The other Conservative provincial premiers in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan worked collaboratively with the federal government during the pandemic and were grateful for all the financial aid offered. Kenney left millions of federal dollars on the table, and when not hiding behind Dr. Hinshaw’s skirt, was out on the stump berating doctors, nurses and the federal government.
The majority of Canadians don’t want reform/republican ideology and they don’t want Kenny conservatism. They just want a pragmatic business-friendly party with a social and environmental conscience.
Unfortunately, like Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party, O’Toole governs a divided party. For the majority of Canadians who are non-party affiliated voters, it’s too risky a proposition to vote for a political party that is fractured from within.
I was hopeful when O’Toole was elected leader that the Conservative Party would regain ground in the middle of the political spectrum—the sweet spot where the majority of Canadian voters reside. But the powerful reform faction of the party remains yoked to American Republicans, Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson.
Therein lies the answer to the Rocky Mountain man’s query. Canadians outside of Alberta know exactly who Trudeau is and what he has done in office. Many would dearly like to give their vote to Erin O’Toole. But these same non-party affiliated voters in other provinces find the Americanisation of the federal Conservative party even more repugnant than Justin Trudeau.
It’s not Erin O’Toole’s leadership that is the problem, it’s the un-united party he leads that is the problem.