October 20, 2015

Lessons for Conservatives to learn

Brian LilleyArchive

There will be days and weeks of discussion about why the election turned out the way it did. There will be endless commentary on why Harper lost, why Trudeau won and why Tom Mulcair and the NDP saw their vote collapse.

Those are not the lessons learned that I want to talk about today.

Justin Trudeau took his Liberals hard left this election. He carved out his position and proudly proclaimed it. Once in office he will not be shy to enact his policies regardless of how radical they are.

These are the lessons the Conservatives need to learn and act on as they seek a new leader and rebuild the party to once again seek office.

Conservatives will be prompted by many in the chattering classes and by many within their own ranks to move even further to the centre, to be more like Liberals, be more progressive to win.

I disagree.

The Conservative Party didn’t lose this election because it was too far right. After a decade in power there are many reasons for the loss, some attributable to the party, some to other factors including the appeal of a new leader, a new party taking power.

And if we are honest we should all be able to agree that Stephen Harper ran a centrist government. He didn’t govern from the right.

I think he moved Canada incrementally in a conservative direction but Stephen Harper was not by any objective measure the radical right-winger his opponents claimed he was.

The lesson going forward isn’t to run away from the policies and successes of the last decade but to build on them, to define a conservative movement in Canada and a Conservative Party in Canada that is distinct from what is being offered by the so-called progressive parties.

In 1975 Republicans in the United States were assessing what happened in elections the previous year. The party had been hammered and many were claiming the GOP had to build a big tent by moving in a more liberal direction.

Ronald Reagan offered a different prescription saying instead that America needed a revitalized Republican Party “raising a banner of bold colours, no pale pastels.”

Informed by Reagan, and by Trudeau’s example this election that is what Conservatives must do.

Having a big tent doesn’t mean having a tent with no walls, a party so open that it has no ideals, no principles. The party and the movement that supports it need to clearly define what conservatism is and then present that to Canadians.

So what does define Canadian conservatism today?

A desire for small government, to be sure. We didn’t get as much of that as I would have liked during the Harper years but we did get rid of the Wheat Board and the country did not fall. We stopped jailing people for refusing to disclose personal details in a census and the country did not fall.

We need to keep moving in the direction of questioning at every turn whether government is the answer, whether a program that exists should continue to exist.

On justice, the push for a more victim-oriented system is near complete and unlikely to be undone. There may need to be a rethink for new policies outside of expanded mandatory minimums, but putting victims ahead of pampered criminals needs to be at the centre of any future policy.

In foreign affairs, the Harper years were a breath of fresh air in my view, an end to the go along to get along era. Canada didn’t abandon the United Nations, much to my chagrin, but we no longer had a government that worried about upsetting dictatorships.

Not everything was good, not everything should be replicated going forward, but on the whole the Harper years and the policies put forward provide a solid foundation that should be built on.

Canadian conservatives want and need bold colours, let’s learn from Reagan and Trudeau.


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commented 2015-11-15 01:19:02 -0500
Harper simply gave the Left too much ammunition to use against him. If he was as successful as the right would of had you believe, he’d have another majority.The voters have spoken. Maybe in 2020 the PC’s will have someone in the same position that Trudeau was going into Oct 19 and that was just showing the governments performance in the previous 4 years.
commented 2015-11-02 10:41:15 -0500
It is too bad that the election campaign was not a level playing field. The media is Left, so a govt funded Canadian media that is left, really.. That makes no sense, so throwing out a reward fee – whoever you support I will give you an extra 100,000 to 150,000 million if I get elected? How fair is that? Harper was going to continue to shave the media’s budget subsidies back so you know the media will not support Harper. It is easy to say this now but Harper should have stopped any subsidies to CBC and the others the moment he was in Majority. The media fed the public and moved their thinking to choose between Liberal or NDP. Harper was out. On a larger scale, the UN needs a liberal govt to buy into that Global New World Order nonsense that is going to happen in Paris. Hate to say it but Putin and I think China will not support that ridiculous idea. Harper was not supporting it either but now … It will be embraced by Trudeau without question.
commented 2015-10-26 17:52:19 -0400
Conservatives lost election as was expected and I am not surprised at all. No party will ever openly say that they want to lose but for the sake of healthy democracy it is better to take turns. Harper has been an awesome PM and He has done excellent job. It is an irony that Canadians did not judge Him on the job description rather was judged based on their narrow prejudices. Why He lost election? It is absolutely necessary to analyze the loss threadbare. First of He did not lose due to Conservatives wavering: rather the core stood beside Him like a rock—something we Conservatives should be proud of and count on in future. One of the biggest reasons for His loss is the fact that overwhelming majority of Muslims remained His arch enemies and that proved as decisive factor. How? It all started with “ I stand with Israel” statement of Harper. Rightly or wrongly majority of Muslims will never be friends of Israel. Muslim’s Kids in educational institutions and on social media are always hyper active and are the ones setting the tone. And when Hamas started cynical war for the sole purpose of flooding footages of “Israeli aggression” ,all over the world the Muslim activists led the charge and bleeding heart white liberals followed like sheeps. That not only reinforced the prejudices among the Muslim community but majority of white liberals did also fell to the anti-Israeli (Jews) narrative. Loaded with that poison the hacktivists continued their unrelenting onslaught against the “supporters of Israel” . The hidden Nazis, anti-Semites , communists rejoiced at the momentum and kept it directed against their target. The judges fell for their charms and made hero out of a terrorist, surrendered values of equality of genders at the altar of charter while allowing the restrictive enslaving hijab in the middle of election campaign. And so on. That is now history. So what is the way forward? Harper is gone but Conservatives shall endure and continue to stand for what they believe in. There are many other reasons but the one mentioned earlier proved as most crucial. New Conservative leader must try to reach out to Muslim community and make a case for what they stand for and hear from the other side as well and emphasis on the whatever common ground is there between them. The outcome of such effort may not be what we are hoping for but at least those who blame Conservatives for divisiveness will have one less reason to bank on.
commented 2015-10-23 13:11:00 -0400
The Conservatives may have no choice but to elect a smiling idiot and track to the left if the Liberals put in weighted ballots. It’s no secret the Liberals are generally people’s 2nd favorite party (or lesser of two evils for people), and if we have weighted ballots they are going to crush the parties to the left and to the right.
commented 2015-10-22 17:53:14 -0400
Why didn’t we deal with Justin by going after his father’s record. Tell voters “Do you really want a return to Pierre?”
commented 2015-10-22 10:41:33 -0400
One thing we learned is what the other side looks like. Through selective filtering of reader comments, the left wing media showcased the hate filled diatribes of the terminally angry. As Bill Buckley said, liberals always claim to open to other points of view, but are shocked and deeply offended when they find there ARE other points of view. In displays of stupefying arrogance, they label anyone who disagrees with their rants as a Nazi, racist, bigot or xenophobic. Name calling and picket line chants are their preferred form of discussion. Fortunately, we know they will never be members of the Conservative party.
commented 2015-10-21 19:37:37 -0400
After the battle of Little Big Horn, Captain Banteen told the press and the board of inquiry….“mistakes were made”.

Those mistakes included but were not limited to ….arrogance….over confidence…..not listening to the advice of scouts….underestimating enemy strength of numbers….not getting a message from the fact that your unit had the highest rate of desertion in the army’s history….and most importantly…..underestimating the effect that the unpopular policies your were enforcing filled your enemies with a fierce resolve to resist and defeat you.

I started out with two acres of grass here on my property…..I let all but a normal lot size revert to woods and bushes. People had this dogmatic view that the way to eliminate black flies is to mow the grass. My experience is vast mowed acreages breed cluster flies and….when you go out through the grass with a mower…black flies and mosquitos that were contentedly sipping on the nectar in that grass…will rise and come against you like the Lakota came after Custer….and for pretty much the same motivation.

Now let’s cut the ideological crap and do some real analysis as to why “swing votes” changed. And blaming it on union propaganda is just as disingenuous as blaming Harper’s majority on robocalls.
commented 2015-10-21 17:57:04 -0400
Canadians left of the 32% that voted for Harper are not exactly critical thinkers. They are the “foot soldiers” of the Liberal leadership, and the media. They simply need to know who is “evil” and where to aim. We have been taught to take what is said to us from those most popular as the God honest truth instead of reacting to all statements with an initial dose of skepticism.
commented 2015-10-21 16:19:03 -0400
“Trudeau Won Because the Youth Want Old Canada Back.”
If “Old Canada” was nothing but me/now, I guess you’re right, JIMMY.
commented 2015-10-21 15:48:34 -0400

I have been all over Canada, so that’s not the issue. What the issue for me is – this isn’t the Canada that I grew up in and I suspect many Canadians feel the same way. I also work in the States and it saddens me how much Canada has become exactly like America in the worst ways possible.

I used to think that racism, bigotry, homophobia and the like were really more of an American thing – that Canadians were above all of that…that we accepted everyone and were proud of our differences and multiculturalism. However this election and even The Rebel has proven that Canada has their own Texas in a sense of racist, bigoted, hateful and homophobic fucks that don’t deserve to even call themselves Canadians.

I am embarrassed to be living in the same country as these people – who seemingly are from the west and I feel that Harper has actually encouraged this way of thinking. Harper was Prime Minster for the rich. Trudeau will be Prime Minister for the people. It’s good to see that Canadians are excited and passionate about politics again.

You may enjoy this – Trudeau Won Because the Youth Want Old Canada Back.

commented 2015-10-21 15:15:21 -0400
Jimmy, I am now 65 years old. First time I voted I was 19. The .only time I ever voted anything BUT Liberal was 2011. That’s right…I didn’t even vote for Harper in 2006…but shortly after that election….while attending a union meeting ….I became a big fan….because I saw how the Liberals had been screwing me….and how I had the Tories all wrong.

I am at heart a Libertarian…..I like the idea of the “Fair Tax” platform put forward by the Christian Heritage Party….I see the folly in gauranteed minimum income…I see the folly in any and all government controlled things that set price and create shortages by doing so. Health care wait times are a result of providers being a limited cartel and insurers trying to set the price…..the remedy for wait times is not more public money…it’s incentive to expand the supply.

The cultural changes you have been seeing Jimmy are not from any form of government. I have a friend who is Jewish who wants me to join him on his annual migration to Cuba for the winter. He attributes the fun loving Cuban culture to Castro’s Marxist regime……it didn’t seem to make Cambodia, Romainia, Albania, or a lot of other places happier….one Czech dissident said “beauty only exists where it’s persistent persecutors have failed to find it”…..and the Cubano population of Miami are more fun loving than the Jews there…and they’re not even communist.

Jimmy….you really should see more of Canada than Toronto….any time I have been there the thing I have found most puzzling is that so many people seem to be able to live there all their lives without it ever once occuring to them that anything was wrong.

Within weeks of quiting smoking any time I ever took a puff on a cigarette I couldn’t believe that I ever enjoyed doing it. When I became allergic to onions and garlic and had to stop eating them, within months I could not believe that I ever enjoyed the taste…..they burn the taste buds into insensitivity..

And when I stopped watching CBC…..:-)
commented 2015-10-21 13:53:38 -0400

Despite his fan club in the west, I just think it has come down to Canadians not being happy with Harper and the direction that he had taken Canada for the last 10 years as crazy as this may seem to you. For me – this is NOT the Canada that I used to know. Harper has essentially turned us into America Jr.

I also do think that Canadians want Canada to be more forward thinking and make progressive decisions – but Harper just had a backwards mentality and just wouldn’t join the 21st century.
commented 2015-10-21 13:14:37 -0400
That whole “Canadians want change” was being pushed by the media. Even last night on the CBC they were still ehoing the mantra. Also “It was time for him (Harper) to go”, using that logic, why am I still looking at faces on these channels that have been there for more than a decade? Has it no become way past time for them to have gone?
commented 2015-10-21 13:12:18 -0400
The most important lesson from this election to learn is that conservatives will not have avoice with the media in Canada as it currently stands. What happened to CRTC reviewing the SUn News complaint about the inequitable treatment of it compared to liberal owned and operated media channels? Did they pull those channels from “basic cable’ packaging”?
commented 2015-10-21 09:50:56 -0400
The swing in Quebec was easy to understand…..Quebecers are very defensive about their culture and Stompin Tom backed the wrong horse. All the Quebecers who just got finished pruning back the Catholic Church were not going to have the Mosque rammed down their throats.
commented 2015-10-21 09:48:13 -0400
There’s one thing the Conservatives certainly have to learn: when they hire or appoint someone, they better at least do a Google search and ask a few questions – and if flags are raised, get someone else. Harper’s demise started with Duffy and Brazeau. Background checks that included interviews with acquaintances to determine the candidates’ characters would have raised flags. It is inconceivable that this was not done…I figure Harper et al just chose to ignore the cautions.
commented 2015-10-21 09:33:38 -0400
Well no there were other things as well….for instance here in PEI those who are not seasonally employed go to Alberta for good paying jobs….now that they are comming home in droves is no time to be hard lines on EI……here in PEI there are more Catholic nuns in habits than there are moslem women in hijab …so So DURKA DURKA SHERPA SHERPA MOHAMMED JIHAD just isn’t a battle cry here…and…this is the big one….the Conservatives are perceived as “mall cops”….just an overbearing measure where it really isn’t needed….crime is very low here on the island…..and most immigrants don’t last too many winters here…..the population drops 2/3 after tourist season.

And Jimmy…..it is something that few people have the decernment to realize…..it just so easy to be a nice guy with other people’s money

What do you think it was over Jimmy? The F-35’s?
commented 2015-10-21 07:38:00 -0400

Do you actually believe that? That marijuana is what put Liberals over the top?
commented 2015-10-21 07:29:00 -0400
The explaination that you are all ignoring is actually a very simple one…….this election was seen as the golden opportunity to repeal the marijuana prohibition and a lot of people who otherwise never bother with politics got out and voted.

Most of them wouldn’t have a clue about any of the analysis of political science laid out by Brian or that people with politics as a serious hobby would say.

Most union meetings consist of a hard core quorum….the hall gets filled when ther is a vote on a pet issue.
commented 2015-10-21 07:05:26 -0400
The left is pure evil.


How can seriously type that Jim? It’s one thing to have different political views, it’s another thing to say something fucking crazy and reinforce that conservatives like you, are absolute whackjobs.
commented 2015-10-21 07:01:45 -0400
The more right/conservative you get – the more unelectable you will be in Canada. While Canadians may want someone who is fiscally conservatives, the vast majority of Canadians are socially liberal.
commented 2015-10-21 02:49:28 -0400
Let’s keep it simple. People are idiots. Idiots vote left. Need I remind you that Harper’s majority was also only won with less than 40% of the popular vote. That means the other approximately 2/3rds of the country voted hard left. And Harper was just “socialism lite”.

True conservatism will never win until the idiots that make up the vast majority of the population (and that includes a lot of them on our side) are made to learn that their stupid ideas don’t work. That will never happen as long as they have their welfare checks, “smart” phones and get laid when they want.

That means a total collapse of western society and a whole generation of people living in outright squalor and slavery will need to happen to finally get the guts to rise up and defeat the oppressive left in a revolution. That will never happen as long as there are the leftist bread and circuses along with that dangling carrot hanging from the stick strapped to their backs to keep the left in power. That’s why they do what they do. That is why the left are pure evil.

Sorry folks, there is no solution to this. Only time and a lot of anguish. A total cleansing of the mire and filth that infects the demented and warped minds of society is required.
commented 2015-10-21 02:04:56 -0400
Dan that is what I suspected. All I hear is he is a dictator or divisive ect but no one ever says how. The media said it so it must be true.
commented 2015-10-21 02:02:00 -0400
Great post Joel. It is beyond bizarre the list for Trudeau. A boy my wife works with calls him just Justin. That is some man love just there. What are missing everyone else sees
commented 2015-10-21 01:49:50 -0400
I guess the lesson for conservatives is try being conservative for once in your lives.

Really. Harper was no more than a government-employed statist, who never saw a deficit he didn’t like, or a patronage appointment he wasn’t enthusiastic about handing out. There was also the problem of muzzling his caucus, which is enforced political-correctness. There too much about Harper was reveals he never was a conservative, and that’s what really killed him off. Leaving office a year before the election would have done a lot of good, giving the platform to Jason Kenney to successfully define a truly conservative agenda. Harper is gone and conservatives should say good riddance.
commented 2015-10-21 01:08:35 -0400
Harper wasn’t conservative enough, which I think let down a lot of conservative supporters. When I did some campaigning in a provincial election eight years ago, a lot of conservative supporters were upset at Harper for caving into the left wing demands. Because of this, these conservative citizens decided they were not going to bother to go and vote in the provincial elections.

I was most disappointed in Harper when he did not stand up to that Idle No More chief.

Conservatives need a leader that is unapologetic and proud to be right of center. Just look at how Donald Trump has rallied support in the states.
commented 2015-10-20 22:30:44 -0400
To start with, it wasn’t clear we needed a new face to win this election. Although history may say 4 election wins has only happened what once before? Stephen Harper started with two minority governments, so it was quite reasonable to assume he may have had a good chance at a second majority. So the start to the campaign was solid.

Where we lost, was in our underestimation of our opponent. Justin Trudeau certainly was, and is, a shiny pony. All hair and a pretty smile, but I digress. We always knew he was not our opponent. Our real opponent was our image. Or rather the image that the many pundits, commentators, and editors portray as us. We know this. We have known this for decades. We remind ourselves of this, bemoaning it constantly, to the point we sound like whingers, sore losers, and rather out of touch. This feeds the frenzy. We forgot that the ranks of people we need to disseminate our message care more for selling copy than telling truth. This means our greatest ally, the truth, never quite seems to do the job. Always stopping short of taking the hill, never quite reaching that bridge too far. And we pay the price.

Mr. Harper knew this when he admonished Mr. Duffy about his expenses, which weren’t actually illegal. Mr Harper knew this when he enforced strict discipline among his backbenchers talking to the media. Mr. Harper knew this when demanding to vet questions before media scrums. Mr. Harper knew this.

Unfortunately Mr. Harper was extremely busy throughout the campaign building a trade agreement that will serve Canada very well through the next 20 years. This took his attention away from the task at hand of getting re-elected. This speaks to his credit as a leader. Putting Canada ahead of his, and our, interest. Thank you sir.

Instead, we failed by not turning the media against itself. Trudeau did this, and we did not. Trudeau would drop a bomb “I am going to legalize marijuana.” Then watch the pundits fall over themselves trying to make sense of it, while a highly motivated and therefore vocal, minority fights your battle, and you remain aloof from the carnage and wreckage appearing in the centre of the political stage. Our response: “Pot is the [greatest threat in our time],” or some such hyperbole driven nonesense. Rather than something more unifying “I (the Prime Minister) plan on using Federal money to providing addiction recovery spaces, and paying for the cost of addiction recovery.”

But what about when the media asks the specific question about his opinion about Trudeau’s marijuana plan. “That is a separate issue, which experts must answer.” “It is something he has certainly spent a lot of time considering, we have been busy laying the foundation of our economic success for the next two generations, and thinking of ways we can reduce crime resulting from drug and alcohol addictions to provide safer streets and homes.”

Yet the media may not buy this line, and attempt a blitzkreig in the magnitude of something like, but this doesn’t fit with your tough on crime agenda. To which our candidate could have laid the deathblow: “How, exactly does giving a hand up to those most vulnerable mean we are not tough on crime? By attacking the root of the issue we are attacking the issue. By taking aim at a social ill which has proven time and again, in study after study to be the a huge cause of crime, we are creating safer streets and a better world for us, and our children.” The stunned silence from the media might even provide enough time for some flair: “Compassion is, ultimately, the chief virtue of a conservative. And therefore the chief virtue of a conservative government.”

Weigh this against the “Let me be clear” preface to everything. And, well, I need say nothing more. Mr. Harper did amazing things. Mr Harper’s sense of duty, honour, and intellect is something we should all strive to emulate. It was this sense of duty which caused him to focus so much attention right where the nation needed it, at a time he needed his attention elsewhere. And he survived, nay, thrived in an entirely hostile environment for 9 years. winning ever greater mandates despite withering fire from the enemy. Thank you Mr. Harper. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

But now it is time to rebuild our party. And the lesson we must take from this loss is only one thing. Instead of fighting the media, we must find how to use it to our advantage.

Now how to coax Brad Wall out of Provincial politics. . .
commented 2015-10-20 22:09:32 -0400
Robert Hewgill – I don’t like appeasement either, but when you look at the history, it’s rare to have a conservative government. Harper had a minority first, so he would have been used to trying to get everyone on board. I think he did a fine job, with what little time he had. He should have defunded the CBC immediately upon receiving his majority, and then I think we would have seen a much different result in this election.
commented 2015-10-20 21:48:23 -0400
Deborah Graupner

I could have done a better job. I wrote Harper, Oliver and that fembo waste of skin my MP several times starting two years ago and told them what to do, and they did virtually nothing to nothing. I told Harper then that they could be in danger of losing the next election if they didn’t pull the rag out. I was right in spades. Appeasement doesn’t work, never has, and never will.
commented 2015-10-20 21:36:42 -0400
Robert Hewgill – don’t forget the aggressive press, that were unrelenting in their hatred, and condemnation of Harper. Harper is a just a man, and many of you act like he should be a god. How many of you think you could do a better job, than this capable man? I don’t think many.