After its defeat last October, the Conservative Party of Canada was quickly reduced to an erratic and remarkably lame political entity. My faith in it has nearly evaporated, and my patience is running out.
When it was led by Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party was at its strongest, and easily its most principled. Of course, the inner-workings of any party are hard to discern, but since Harper's retreat into the background, the party seems to be moving backwards as well. Perhaps the grip he was reported to hold on the party was not exaggerated after all.
As a conservative, I cannot look at the last eight months and claim anything as a victory. In fact, it’s been a complete and utter disaster, as the Conservatives have failed spectacularly by nearly every measure, and haven’t been able to mount any resistance to the onslaught of media and opposition party narratives.
I used to admire the Conservative Party's determination to move in the opposite direction as the Left. It wouldn’t pander to left wing ideologues or try to be a media darling. But that has swiftly changed, as the Conservative Party of Canada is morphing into what its opponents want it to be: elitist, unprincipled, and destined to lose.
First we have Rona Ambrose, who, despite being lauded by Ottawa’s “important people,” has been a total bore, completely uninspiring to conservatives and regular Canadians alike. Seven months into her term as opposition leader, she has made zero progress cutting into Trudeau’s popularity. I’m convinced that the “Draft Rona” campaign to get her elected as the Conservative nominee is either a joke or a Liberal ploy to give us the dullest option on the table. But hey, at least she has Snapchat!
However, I can’t lay the blame for the state of the party entirely at her feet. Looking at the prospects for our new leader, I’m doubting the party’s ability to even remain conservative. MacKay, Bernier, Raitt and O’Leary are all cut from the same Red Tory cloth, where being conservative only matters on the issues easiest to defend.
I’m not asking for a hardline, unelectable, right-wing demagogue, but I want someone who can at least pretend that they aren’t ashamed of their own party.
Conservatives have clearly bought into the post-election narrative: That we lost because we became the party of tyrannical oppressors, while the Liberals were the shining pillars of moral righteousness. This narrative, despite all evidence to the contrary, is being fed to us by the very party we voted for, and it’s nothing but insulting.
Take, for example, the vote to overturn the Conservative Party’s opposition to same-sex marriage. The debate around marriage was nowhere to be found in the past two elections, yet this vote was supposed to signal a triumphant rebirth of the party? In fact, the social conservative stances the party took during the election were the most popular parts of their platform. That’s not something that should be ignored.
I understand it’s supposed to be a symbolic gesture of progress, but instead, it comes off as a symbol of political confusion. The party doesn’t know how to portray itself, so it votes on an issue that hasn’t been discussed in eight years, in hopes it will help them in 2019. It’s trying to tow the middle line between media darling and conservative philosophy, but can’t appease either side.
The Conservative Party is in serious need of new energy. They’ll tell you that their convention was a big success, and they’ll be ready to take on Trudeau, but don’t believe them. They think they’re in a better position than they really are, and if this attitude carries over to the next election, conservatism in Canada will be looking like it did in the 1990s.