Since Andrew Scheer has shown a strong level of stubbornness, the party is not going to win under him. But changing leaders is only a band aid solution, the party must make changes in policy otherwise it will have a similar result in the next election. Below are a few things I believe they should do.
Get serious about Climate Change
A lot of the base may be deniers and many just blindly oppose any taxes despite the fact we wouldn’t have universal health care, military, police, roads, or public education without taxation. Likewise concerns about climate change will only grow not disappear and a party who is unwilling to confront challenges of the day will not win. That is why I believe on the carbon tax it is time for the party to recognize a revenue neutral carbon tax is a conservative idea and to adopt one. People want real action on climate change, especially millennials who will see the long term impacts. Likewise all societies need taxes to function so this idea all taxes are bad needs to be dropped. Instead we need to focus on raising taxes for things we want less of while lowering them for things we want more of and a carbon tax helps achieve that. Some are concerned this will split the party, but as a resident of BC and a card carrying BC Liberal member, the BC Liberals adopted one in 2008 and the coalition has remained united and still wins in conservative strongholds. Base may not like carbon tax, but it will appeal to swing voters and at end of day, base has nowhere else to go. That doesn’t mean being anti-resource, in fact polls show majority of Canadians want both a carbon tax while still supporting pipelines so you can be pro-resource development even with a carbon tax. A carbon tax is a market based solution of pricing a negative externality. Likewise as a compromise, Tories could follow Kenney’s lead and impose one on industry but not consumers and to make it effective, it would need to be higher than Liberals plan, but this is one alternative which would allow them to distinguish themselves.
Drop Social Conservatism
People don’t just want a leader who promises to protect the status quo, they want a leader who shares their values and whose values are with the times, not stuck in the past. By marching in gay pride parades and slamming the door shut on not re-opening abortion, that makes clear the party is with the present times. Social conservatives are always going to be part of the party, but they should not play a major role and they should understand one has the right to hold socially conservative viewpoints, but you don’t have the right to impose them on others and banning gay marriage and abortion is imposing your views on others. Likewise we are a tolerant country and homophobia has no place in Canada and being supportive of LGBT community means supporting all their rights.
Develop a serious plan to deal with challenges
Party needs to quit promising simplistic solutions to complex problems. With an aging population, changing workforce due to globalization and automation, and large cities becoming less affordable, we have some serious challenges. But these require a strong coherent platform. As such the party should work on developing one to deal with challenges ahead and should role out their plans well before the election so they can make the case to Canadians why changes are needed. With such plan, people will be less likely to see the party as an ideologically driven one and attack ads will be harder to stick. Also perhaps look to experts outside the party to help craft plans here as Trudeau ran on listening to experts so if done this will inoculate from attacks. With a simplistic plan and lack of coherence, the other parties will fill in the blanks and it won’t be to the Tories’ liking.
Adopting some of these plans will help make the party more electable come next election, but to do this, Scheer needs to go, but changing leaders on its own is not sufficient.