So here's the Conservative Party of Canada leadership contest in a nutshell: If Kevin O'Leary gets into the race, he's going to ride a wave of discontent and win. End of story. Unless...
Unless one of the other leadership campaigns offers something more compelling. An idea that inspires voters to vote for them.
That's not happening right now because the fraternity of PR professionals running these bids are convinced that if they offer Canadians anything other than Keeping Taxes Low, there will be a backlash that they're just not up to dealing with.
Why is Kevin O'Leary going to win if nobody promotes an inspiring idea? Because Kevin O'Leary is going to fearlessly articulate the resignation and cynicism Canadians -- and Conservatives -- feel with their government and with political parties in general.
And why are they resigned and cynical? Because of the weaksauce leadership they've been offered. Because government has become so ideologically and intellectually bankrupt, and so tentative and fearful besides, that populism looks like an improvement.
With populism, at least something is said with conviction.
By weaksauce leadership, I mean the CPC brain trust considering it a victory for Justin Trudeau to agree to call his good pal Denis Coderre in Montreal so they can laugh it up about how they're sticking it to those resource-addicted Westerners. But he said yes to one of their requests! Oh, happy day!
I want to make it clear that Kevin O'Leary's contribution, if it materializes, to this leadership race is needed and necessary. Party members are not going to tolerate a year and a half of everyone making nicey-nice with each other. I don't want to write him off as Trump North or an empty suit with no ideas and no conservative bona fides.
He is none of those things.
But the fact that the prospect of him jumping into the race has provoked empty threats about how populism has no place in Canada, articles in Maclean's talking about the finer distinctions of classical liberalism, and catalogues of O'Leary's business failures from the left (as if they don't have bigger problems they should be worried about) instead of ideas shows that everyone else is either too afraid or too one-dimensional to offer any.
And the largest hypocrisy of all is that they spend their time railing against rackets like the unions and the arts community, where who moves up and who moves down the ladder is totally controlled by those at the top, while failing to acknowledge and name the fact that conservative politics has become just as bad.
If everyone would stop worrying about protecting their spot and create a leadership race where ideas could be debated freely and openly without fear of censure, there would be no need for Trump, no need for O’Leary, and no need for populism.
We wouldn’t have to have these boring debates and carefully scripted events where every word has been coached and rehearsed to avoid, Lord forbid, a mistake or something interesting happening.
But I understand that people’s reputations are on the line here, and nobody wants to be the first person who smashes through the wall, lest they end up a little bloodied, or completely unemployable for the rest of their lives.
So let me do these other campaigns the kindness of taking on whatever kind of risk they think exists in talking about big, bold conservative ideas.
From now until the leadership, I'm going to offer those ideas here on my little blog and pray that at least one campaign sees that and realizes that the world won't end if they dip a toe into the water.
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