As a small c conservative who wants to see an alternative to Justin Trudeau, the Conservative race has been quite disappointing. Trudeau is doing a decent job of handling COVID-19, but we will be left with a huge debt once this is over and with the kind of policies needed to kick start our economy, as well as balance the budget; I don’t believe that Trudeau, based on his actions so far, is willing to do what is needed. This is why it is important to have a decent Conservative alternative.
Unfortunately, I feel the Conservatives, rather than finding ways to broaden its appeal, is just doubling down. They already have a lock on Alberta and Saskatchewan, which represents only 15% of the population, yet this is where their focus seems to be. This ignores the fact they need to gain in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario and B.C. No doubt Alberta has been hit hard and their concerns do matter, but the party has maxed out on all the votes they can get there. In order to move forward, Conservatives need to focus on gaining ground in other provinces.
Likewise on issues of the day, it seems that candidates are trying to pander to their hardcore base, people who are not key swing voters, but who will vote Conservative no matter what. There seems to be no move to reach millennials, nothing to do better amongst women, and very little to gain suburban voters who are key in the next election. I do understand that for a leadership race, membership is primarily composed of a hardcore base and not of swing voters so perhaps the party will pivot after the race is over. The problem with this strategy is that Liberals will be keeping a close eye on promises made, on tweets and releases, in short on anything they can use in their attack ads later on.
One of my biggest disappointments is how the Tories have approached the recent gun ban that Trudeau brought forward. I do understand that there are legitimate concerns such as some shotguns commonly used for hunting being impacted, as well as contesting that this should have gone through parliament, versus being done as an order in council. But raise those issues, rather than talking about a wholesale overturning of the new law. The reality is that 80% of Canadians, including a majority of Conservatives, want these weapons banned. And claiming that this new law only impacts law abiding gun owners won’t cut it with most.
Most Canadians realize that vetting is never full proof and that certain weapons have no place in civilian’s hands regardless of the vetting process. Yet it is not just leadership candidates but also several MP’s who are condemning this new Liberal policy. Liberals must be rubbing their hands in glee as they go through every MP’s website and twitter feed, finding tons of material for attack ads when the next election rolls around.
Yes the gun lobby is loud, but they are offside with most Canadians. And while there is a risk that some may vote PPC or stay home, the reality is that a vast majority of legal gun owners are not impacted by the ban. At most maybe 1% of the total population maybe affected. If the Tories lose those voters, that it is no big deal as there are plenty of other voters to pick up elsewhere. Never mind that those voters live in safe Tory ridings anyways, while the voters they really need to win over live in areas where support for the gun ban is extremely high.
Some may say that the party needs to stick to principles, but I’ve always argued that you need to focus on the doable versus the ideal (although allowing such weapons in civilian hands is not my ideal). There are far more important hills worth dying on. We have a crisis and the aftermath is going to be challenging so if the party is going to burn political capital on unpopular stances, do it on something that will help our country recover, versus pandering to a small, very loud fringe minority.
I really hope after the leadership race is over, whomever is chosen drops the idea of repealing this ban. If they persist I will have a very tough time voting for them. I’ve seen the carnage such weapons cause elsewhere, and also seen how if you give the gun lobby an inch, they keep asking for more, never to be satisfied until all gun laws are repealed. Best to stay away from groups like the CCFR, NFA, CSAAA and CSSA, all of whom are well outside of the Canadian mainstream. Australia, New Zealand and British conservatives supported such bans so why can’t we?
Of course there are other issues too, this is just one example. Yes, lousy poll numbers may be because of a rally behind the flag attitude amongst Canadians (which would happen no matter what), but taking such an approach ensures that the party won’t rebound when this ends. BC Liberals on the west coast are taking the right approach. Their poll numbers probably don’t look good either, but at least by cooperating and working with the government on the pandemic, they will be in good shape to rebound if public opinion turns on the NDP government. On the other hand, federal Tories will not be in good shape if they don’t change tactics.