Once again, I stand corrected. Canada's Conservative establishment aren't just getting dominated by Kevin O'Leary - they're not even in the same galaxy as he is.
It's like watching a rocket race a bunch of dinosaurs.
Here's a thought for them:
O'Leary is not running as Stephen Harper. He is not running to be opposition leader like the rest of this field. He is going to say things that Canadians believe and agree with, not just Conservative boilerplate.
So it may come as a rude shock to them (and some of you) to hear him say that we should stick to peacekeeping, but the fact is that the CPC tried its best to sell the threat of ISIS to Canadians. They failed miserably. Not for lack of trying, but because, as I wrote a few months back, Canadians would just prefer to not give ISIS any trouble so (the thinking goes) they don't attack us.
Maybe that's not brave or heroic, but -- to use that wonderful Canadian phrase -- It Is What It Is.
The other candidates could try to fight this battle and keep losing, but O'Leary has moved on. He's accepted the judgement of the electorate, which is that trying to "Conservatize" this country through the use of branding, messaging, and talking points is just not going to happen, and that's a lot more than I can say for the architects of Campaign 2015.
But if the other candidates want to offer Canadians something worthwhile on defence/military/foreign policy issues, they could try one of these ideas:
Restore benefits to veterans
Do you know why the CPC rolled back benefits for veterans? Me neither. I'm sure they had wonderful talking points to justify it, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were.
I mean, since the Liberals are going to pull CF-18's out of the bombing mission against ISIS while simultaneously increasing the number of troops on the ground, the least we could do is make sure our soldiers are properly taken care of when the inevitable happens.
Put pressure on Saudi Arabia
It's all well and good for conservatives to promote Canadian oil over the stuff produced by human rights abusers, but then when we stay silent over the Liberal decision to press ahead with a $15 billion contract to sell military jeeps to the same people, it kind of feels like a kick right to the credibility.
Since nobody wants to damage their electoral prospects in Southern Ontario by cancelling the deal, how about we ask the question of what kind of political capital we're getting in return?
Why not call upon the Liberals to use some of that "soft power" they're always talking about? What's Bob Rae been up to lately? Maybe we could send him there? Maybe he won't come back?
Commit to an open procurement process for military equipment
Why is it that every time a government tries to buy military equipment for this country they end up making a ridiculous hash of it?
I get that removing the politics from decisions like this is impossible, and I get that lobbyists can be very persuasive, and I get that there are plenty of people in Ottawa who would prefer for us not to have a military at all.
So if we must have a political and media circus, let's at least try to make it a bit more intelligible by shining a bit more light on exactly how these decisions are made.
I do realize that these suggestions are more theatrics than actual policy proposals, but in order to beat someone like Kevin O'Leary, you have to fight him on his own turf.